Dating from the late 19th or very early 20th century, this spectacular antique necklace makes its feminist statement in a pretty, flirty way -- with a profusion of Art Nouveau leaves and flowers, lots of glittering jewels and a graceful lavalier form that sets the drop dancing as you move.
Both the surmount and the pendant are domed and highly sculptural. The gilt bronze is richly finished in two shades of rose gold: One is a slightly pink gold and the other deepens to red gold. As you know if you follow fashion, rose gold is the trendiest hue for jewelry now -- just as it was from circa 1890 until white metals became the rage in Edwardian times. Adorning it are a huge cabochon of art glass (or possibly Galalith) jade, four sparkling amethyst pastes and four faux pearls.
The unusual combination of green, purple and white typically signifies that a jewel was first owned by a member of the Suffragette movement. For them, green represented hope, purple signified dignity and white stood for purity. The language we associate with "regard" jewelry applied, too: The "G" of green, "W" of white and "V" of violet comprised an abbreviation for Give Women (the) Vote. All this seems cryptic now, but was clearly understood by everyone in an era when messages were also communicated by which flowers you sent, how you held your fan and which corner of a calling card you folded down, if any. To the Suffragettes' efforts through many decades in the U.K. and U.S., we modern women owe our right to vote. That right was finally extended to all American women in 1920 and to all in Great Britain in 1928. Thus, although most of the jewelry is Victorian, Edwardian or transitional, some was crafted in the Art Deco era. Forgotten for many years, these jewels have been rapidly gaining value since the movie "Iron Jawed Angels" appeared in 2004, revealing what the gals went through (including hunger strikes and beatings). Wearing Suffragette jewels is a great way to show your pride and appreciation and, now that the genre has been rediscovered, they're getting much harder to find.
This jewel, which reached us from a Utah estate, probably originated in France, long renowned for work in gilt bronze. It's quite a substantial piece and in lovely condition. A little age-appropriate surface wear can be noted on the reverse, but the front shows only the patina of time and all the stones appear original. The chain, although beautifully matched for color, is of a form developed a few decades later, so must have replaced an open-linked chain broken long ago. The brass filigree clasp is also too perfect to be original, but of the right style. Our price of course reflects the later additions. This is quite a substantial piece, as you'd expect with a bronze. The lavaliere is about 2.5 inches tall and the chain measures 7 inches on each side, so total hanging length is roughly 17 inches, allowing half an inch for the clasp. Most likely dating is circa 1895 - 1905.
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