Travel became a popular passion in late Victorian times, thanks to a rising middle class and advances in transport, and destinations grew increasingly exotic as the 19th century advanced -- veering toward North Africa and the Middle East, with bonus points for the romance of ancient ruins.
Such dreamy ramblings didn’t suit the modern mood after World War I, but a jewel like this remained possible for a brief interval in the new Czecho-Slovakia -- formerly Bohemia, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire long famous for art glass, enamelwork and jewelry-making. When its post-war artisans took up their tools again, they turned to pre-war designs – and that’s why we occasionally find the earliest Czech hallmark (Czecho, introduced in 1918) on a piece that screams circa 1900.
As you see, it’s entirely Belle Epoque and Bohemian in spirit. Shaped like an ancient ewer, it’s so wildly opulent that you can’t look at it without grinning. At least I can’t. It’s like a relic from a fairytale – or perhaps one of Scheherazade’s famous cliff-hangers. Besides all the glory that’s vivid in front, the back looks like golden lace.
Clearly made to dazzle, this beauty was also made to last. Crafted from gilt-brass filigree that’s astoundingly sturdy, it features gorgeous pretend-rubies, sapphires and emeralds, plus luscious licks of enamel in all three colors, plus white and black. Total weight is a whopping 76.5 carats (more than 15 grams), size is about 2 3/8” by 1 ¼”, provenance is a Washington DC estate and even the fastener is fascinating, the pinstem being much earlier than the rest of the mechanism, with a lot of play at the hinge in the Victorian mode. Of course it was snipped long ago from the extended length that became dangerous when women stopped wearing layers of thick underclothing.
Something this wonderful demands to be enjoyed A LOT, in my opinion. Why not pin it to a wide black (or jewel-toned) ribbon to wear as a choker, headband or sash, as well as in the conventional manner. You could even stitch it onto a bag or hat easily, through the filigree.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping (with an equivalent discount for international delivery) and gift wrap is always free when desired. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!