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A phenomenal Edwardian platinum and 18K gold brooch/pendant in the form of a caduceus set with 160 old European and old mine cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.90 carats. The principal stone is a square cushion cut, weighs approximately .28 ct, and is F color, VVS2 clarity. The smaller diamonds range F-I color, VS2 to I1 clarity. The diamonds are set in platinum over 18K yellow gold in the traditional French manner. The mounting is of the finest quality, with superb hand-sawn piercing and millegraining. This quality is further reflected in that the tiny portion of the bail that can be seen from the front when worn as a pendant is worked in platinum rather than gold like the remainder of the bail and the pinstem. The staff terminates at the top and bottom with a lustrous, slightly oval natural pearl.
The back of the piece has a pinstem that can be unscrewed and removed for wear as a pendant with the folding bail. The shape of the bail suggests that there was probably an optional comb fitting so that the piece could be worn as a hair ornament. The very finest quality and most expensive jewels of the era sometimes had various fittings so the owner could get as much use from a piece as possible.
The caduceus is the herald's wand carried by the Greek messenger god Hermes (and his Roman counterpart Mercury). It is sometimes topped with spread wings echoing the god's winged sandals. In contemporary usage it is the symbol of the medical profession. This linkage likely stems from the myth of the god Apollo sending Hermes to deliver his half-mortal son Aesculapius from the body of his dead mortal mother as her body was consumed by the fire of her funeral pyre. Aesculapius went on to become a healer and founded the cult of which Hippocrates, the founder of western medicine, was a follower.
Origin: France, ca. 1900. Condition: excellent, all original. Size: 2-3/8" x 2-3/8". Weight: 12.7 grams. Approximate Total Diamond Weight: 2.90 cts.