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An outstanding pair of antique 18K yellow gold cufflinks set with diamonds and rubies in the "Japanesque" style produced by Tiffany & Co. for a very brief period following the opening of Japan to western trade in the 1850s. Pieces in this style were wildly popular and always drew from traditional Japanese natural motifs, in this case chrysanthemum blossoms. Each slightly-domed face is ornately worked in a series of overlapping petals, centering old European cut diamonds and cushion cut rubies. The prongs holding the gemstones are fashioned as tiny flower petals--an element not visible except under magnification. The diamonds are estimated at H color and VS1 clarity, while the rubies are strongly-saturated medium-dark, slightly purplish-red in color. The rubies show no signs of heat treatment and are likely Burmese in origin. The faces are joined by chain links, and the backs are marked "Tiffany & Co." in the old style. Tested and guaranteed 18K.
The chrysanthemum was a symbol reserved exclusively for the use of the Japanese emperor and his immediate family. As a further nod to the Japanesque style, Tiffany chose to use gemstones in shades of red and white--the official colors of the Meiji Imperial dynasty.
Origin: America, 1877-1883. Condition: excellent, all original. Size: 5/8" diameter. Weight: 11.4 grams. Approximate Total Gemstone Weight: diamond, .172 ct; ruby, .367 ct.