Late 17th Century Topaz and Diamond Pendant
If you turn to page 56 of the book “Five Centuries of Jewellery” from the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, you will find a very similar example to this late 17th or early 18th century antique pendant brooch. Resplendent with its array of table cut diamonds (one of the earliest forms of diamond cuts) and its two foiled pink topazes, the jewel is breathtaking. Most likely Portuguese of Spanish in origin, it takes on a quintessentially 17th and 18th century motif – that of the bow and drop form. Bows were worn on clothing a great deal and they were one of the more popular motifs to translate into metal and gems. Often too they have a drop below and usually in a teardrop shape.
Note the wonderful play of antique diamonds set into the silver, with the gold work of the rays and the mounts of the colored gems. The use of spirals and scrolls is artfully presented at the top and at the sides and bottom of the drop. Sheer artistry goes into these entirely hand-wrought works. The gems are pink topaz and foiled a deep lush fuchsia pink. They are set deep within collets of gold that are then rubbed over the stone and pinched at short intervals. Diamond cuts have evolved over centuries but these are all table cuts – or a flat top and just a few side facets. Looking quite dark, you often see these in very old portraits. Although in life they have superb soft silvery brilliance. They can and do refract remarkably well, and do look more slate gray at some angles. Put this in candle light or low light and behold a jewel transformed.
Only to during the later part of the 17th century do you see this particular gold work – like rays coming from the sun – the strips of gold are ridged unevenly and catch the light beautifully. These forms are also seen in a similar fashion on altar pieces and religious figures signifying the radiance of the being. Seventy six (76) diamonds in all encrust the edges and interior of the bow as well as adorn the top surfaces. The three largest stones each measures 3 mm by 4 mm high. The topazes measures 6 mm by 7 mm and 1.1.5 cm long by 7 cm wide for the teardrop. Measuring a total length of 4.2 cm long by 3.6 cm wide just over 1 ½ inches long by just over 1 3/16 inches wide at the widest, the entire pendant is a perfect size.
Condition: Superb with little of note. All stones appear original as does all the metal work and little wear given its 300 plus years of existence. The brooch mount is later to the piece and has a more modern safety clasp for security. In its custom leather and velvet & silk lined S. J. Phillips box from some years ago. This firm is one of the leading and most prestigious antique jewelers in the world. Otherwise, it is as if is has been handed to us through the very fingers of someone alive who had witnessed Charles II in power (the last of the Hapsburgs in Spain) and their rival King Louis XIV on the throne. Circa 1680-1720. Spanish or Portuguese. Jewelry such as this comes around very seldom if ever. Quite rare.