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Exquisite and extraordinarily rare French Napoleon III 18K yellow gold and silver locket set with rose-cut diamonds and an en plein enamel plaque. The locket is essentially of geometric shield form relieved at the upper corners with finely chased applied clusters of roses and foliage, and at the bottom with an ornate volute. The shield form, flanked with two arches of rose cut diamonds set in silver, is suspended from a diamond-set urn motif in the Louis XVI style, and itself suspends a rose cut diamond in a pinched collet setting. The locket is very much in the style of the Parisian Belle Epoque master jeweler Eugene Fontenay and his enamelist Eugene Richet.
The front cover features an oval plaque decorated with an en plein enameled scene of two cherubs in a Watteau-like pose. One of the cherubs, however, is special. He has white feathered wings and a quiver of arrows. He represents Amor (aka Cupid or Eros), son of Venus (Aphrodite). He is commonly considered the god of love, but more accurately was the god of desire and erotic love.
The back cover features a beveled glass cover conforming to the shield form enclosing a bed of silk. The interior includes two glass-covered compartments. The bail is stamped with the "tete d'aigle" mark for 18K gold and bears an unidentified master goldsmith's mark.
Origin: France, ca. 1870. Condition: very fine; the glass of one interior compartment is cracked, but seems secure in its frame. Dimensions: 1-1/2" x 2-5/8" (excluding jump ring). Approximate Total Diamond Weight: 1.15 carats.