Empire Period French Antique Earrings
Napoleon divorces Josephine, France invades Spain and thus Napoleon becomes King of Spain, Austria is bankrupt, war rages and all while Beethoven composes. Turbulent times indeed yet from this emerges surprising jewelry of quiet elegance. It was unfashionable to show the excesses of the 18th century court life, along with shortages of precious metals donated for the war efforts, a classicism in fashion, dress and the arts arose. A very specific type of earrings emerged that was paper thin and long often with chains and wire work. Rarely do these delicate and precious creations survive and these are simply the finest example of such. Agate, 18k gold and blue enamel seem humble enough. But when artistry, invention and a strict adherence to proportion and line ensue – great things may result.
Two cabochon oval of banded agate are the focal point of the earrings. Tans, creams, milky whites and like Pointillism there are faint bands of rust tone dots gracing the hardstones. Each has certainly been carefully selected for their banding and harmony. In addition, once they are placed in the ears, it is apparent they are translucent in places and so an additional play of light glows forth. Surrounding these is a fine reeded border of gold and then a rim of gold engraved with a sunburst pattern alternating triangles with tiny rays and textured lines. Next a deep cobalt blue band and a very fine outer rim of gold. The two ovals connect via a simple gold chain adorned with four triangles of gold with engraving in a cross pattern juxtaposed to a bright polish.
The earring wires are original and absolutely correct for their time – front to back wires in a wider arc seat into a tiny whole at the top of the earrings. Impressive in scale, these are often smaller in nature. These measure a full 2 5/8 inches long by 13/16 inches wide at the widest and 11/16 inches wide fro the top oval (6.8 cm long by 2 cm by 1.7 cm wide). In 18k gold, there is one poinçon (hallmark) which may be a cock’s head but hard to discern. In excellent condition and extraordinary for their style and age. Just to touch something almost 200 years old, to feel their soft surfaces and to put them on is a pleasure. So modern in feel as well, but with a far more intimate, personal aura. Circa 1810 and of French origin.