It's a confession...an absolute favorite book around here on 18th century jewelry. If you haven't seen it and if Georgian jewelry is one of your passions, you should. It is "Five Centuries of Jewellery" from the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon by Leonor d'Orey. Talk about breathtaking....
Straight from its pages in age, style and type is this rare and superlative and all out glittering topaz and rock crystal pave pendant from the second half of the 18th century. Pages 88-90 of the book show similar work and examples.
Unusual in several respects, it is a mix of pink topaz, imperial topaz and rock crystal. In pendant form, all the gemstones are pavé set. The gemstone combination is not often found in jewelry. Topaz yes, or pink topaz, or one or the other with rock crystal, but all three colors are quite a find.
What a marvel is that the Portuguese invented this technique of setting gemstones back in the 18th century. You can see this cobblestone or paving stone type work for the first time in all of jewelry history. So closely set, there is barley a millimeter between each.
It was re-invented in the early 20th century with invisibly set jewelry, but not seen before or since in the same manner. Only the Portuguese and Iberian peninsula created these marvels.
Seventeen pink cushion cut topaz line to the outer perimeter in a dazzling display of shimmer. Nestled against these are fancy-cut, rock crystal quartz. In the center of the oval faceted imperial topaz with its peachy, light amber hues. Its light show of shades of topaz and refraction are like nothing else.
The gemstones are set closed backed and foiled underneath. Each is placed within silver that contains a rub over edge that has crimped silver details every 5 mm.
Typical of this work, the outer edge is beaded in 9k rose gold imparting texture, light and shadow to the whole. Placed at the top is a rotating hand-made rose gold bale. At the bottom tip rests a decorative, splayed finial. The two details are also a rarity.
On the reverse, a later silver marquise shaped cap covers the central area. This is priced exceedingly well as a consideration for its later but antique silver backing. Most examples are well over $6000.
*Slides are 17th and 18th century jewels that are worn by threading onto ribbon for wear on the wrist or at the neck as a choker.