Good morning, my darlings!
I have something truly exciting to show you today. I met this piece over the summer at the New York Antique Jewelry and Watch show, but I was asked not to reveal it to you until after it made its debut at this Fall’s New York TEFAF.
It was actually hidden at the show: in the back of the booth, on a high shelf, in a closed box. But the lovely, lovely folks of SJ Shrubsole knew how exceptional it was, and knew how much I would enjoy seeing it…so they made a phone call and secured permission for me to take these pictures for you, my darlings, in exchange for my promise that I wouldn’t share anything until I got the green light.
And now that glorious day has come. Are you ready?
It is no exaggeration to say this coaching brooch is one of the most incredible pieces of jewelry I’ve ever seen (and I have seen some jewelry). Its size, its materials, its absolutely exquisite craftsmanship…there’s no comparison. I hope I see it again someday in a museum.
This glorious coaching brooch is from the Victorian era, dating to 1880. It’s still in its original box from Steeter, on New Bond St. It’s silver over gold, set with diamonds, enamel various hardstones, and one ruby in the lantern.
In this shot, you can really see the scale: this thing is huge. You can even see the little step that the tiny, diamond passengers would have used to ascend into their conveyance.
I wish my photos had come out a little better, but there’s only so much I can do with indoor lighting – and this gorgeous thing deserves to be seen. The level of detail is incredible. Even the tiny diamond hats on the gentleman have brims.
Four perfectly defined diamond carriage horses with gorgeous gold tack pulling an enameled gold carriage with red enameled golden wheels that actually turn, topped by three perfect, diamond-encrusted passengers (and one coachman).
Every detail of this coaching brooch is utterly perfect, from the lines of motion of the horses legs to the ruby light in the carriage’s hanging lamp to the ribs of the umbrella that the lady passenger is holding.
Here’s a closer view of two of the itty bitty diamond people – the lady with the elegant gown and umbrella, and one of her hatted companions.
Here’s the back view of the coaching brooch.
If you’ve learned anything from hearing me talk about antique jewelry (or jewelry in general), let be the fact that you should always flip over a piece and see what the back looks like. This one gives a hint at the amount of skill and time that must have gone into creating these individual elements and joining them together so perfectly.
What do you think, darlings? Does this coaching brooch blow your mind the way it did mine?
I shared a video of this beauty on Instagram earlier today – here’s a link, in case you missed it.
A thousand thanks to SJ Shrubsole for giving me the chance to handle this magnificent thing even though it hadn’t yet made its official public debut.