An outstanding 18K gold shield-form vinaigrette locket, opening to reveal two compartments separated by a hinged crystal cover. The front cover is worked in an ornate pierced and engraved design in the Persian taste. The tiny pierced openings are concealed within the design and are intended to permit the escape of scent from a tiny perfume-soaked sponge that can be wedged inside the front cover. Vinaigrettes of this sort were used by ladies to ward off the unpleasant odors of the streets. The back cover is more simply decorated in a stippled pattern that vaguely suggests fleurs-de-lys. When opened, the back side can accommodate a portrait. The two halves are separated by a thick crystal cover with beveled edges set in gold. The locket hangs from a scrolled bail ornament. The gold has a slightly rosy tint. The inside edges are stamped with French “tete d’aigle” hallmarks for 18K.
Origin: France, ca. 1870. Condition: very good, sharp detail; the back cover has a few small dings visible in strong raking light. Size: 1-9/16” x 15/16”. Weight: 21.0 grams.