The graceful shape of scallop shells has been associated with feminine beauty at least since Botticelli painted the irresistible Aphrodite floating to shore on one. She's associated also with roses, gold and laughter -- celebrating the sweetness, richness and gaiety of romance -- and every one of those elements is beautifully captured here in a set of jewels perfect for today's love goddesses. Sweet pink, blue and dewdrop crystals nestle in shells richly surfaced with soft rosy gold and rise on stalks within the centerpiece rose playfully formed of three scallops. The earrings, still more whimsical, have swirling antennae that turn shells into butterflies. Could anything be girlier? I don't see how.
This is a gorgeously crafted demi-parure, in which each rhinestone is prong-set and those on the necklace are also open-backed for extra sparkle. Even the reverses are lovingly detailed with bright-shining dimensional frames that overlay the ruffly shells that show a brushed finish in front. This level of intricacy suggests the jewels date no later than the 1930s, as do the earrings' screw backs and time's clouding of some rhinestones. Despite their age, which makes them almost antique by American 75-year standards, these show only minor surface wear. The necklace, 16 inches long, has quite a large central element (4 1/2 inches by 2 inches) and the earrings measure about 1 1/4 inches by 3/4 inch. Provenance of these charmers is -- wouldn't you know it? -- a Deep South estate, specifically that of a Georgia belle.
The maker, whose mark appears on the earring backs, was the Bugbee & Nile Company, in business from 1896 to 1943.
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