Victorian jewelers were greatly inspired by discoveries concerning the Etruscan civilization, which flourished along the western coast of Italy between 500 BCC and 300 BCE. Hallmarks of the style include granulation, the technique of arranging tiny metal beads into beautifully textured designs and patterns, dangling accents and stylized flowers.
All these forms of Etruscan ornamentation are seen in this opulent brooch jewel from the Mid-Victorian period. The beaded effect is achieved with finely twisted wirework in floral motifs at each end and starlike designs in between. For extra interest, three shades of gold are featured. The thick metal mesh rope that ends in the glorious tassel is of a paler yellow than the brooch's body and winds through three spectacular openings set with highly dimensional sunbursts of rose gold. More rose gold appears on the bead and cap above the tassel. In the absence of markings (so common in that era), the underlying metal may be silver, brass or lower carat gold. So little finish is lost that I can't tell, and it would be a shame to assault it with files and acids in order to test.
In superb condition after about 150 years, the brooch measures an impressive 2 1/2 inches in each direction. Fittings are original and right for the period. The elongated pinstem has been slightly depressed near the hinge, thus shortening it slightly - a good solution to keeping it from impaling you.
Genuine Etruscan Revival jewels are so hard to find today that even good reproductions are fetching hundreds of dollars. Given their rarity, this authentic 19th century treasure will be not only a delight to wear now, but an investment for the future.
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