I’ve developed an increasing love of antique portrait jewelry.
There’s something magical about a piece of jewelry that can look back at you – and with antique pieces, the degree of mystery is even more fascinating: was the piece inspired by a real person, or is it an abstract representation? If it was inspired by a specific person – who was it? Did they like their portrait? Did they choose to be represented this way? Who was it commissioned by/for?
I was browsing the SJ Phillips website recently and I found these two examples of antique portrait jewelry. They’re very different, but both spectacular. I decided I absolutely had to share them both with you.
The first piece we’re looking at is diminutive in size – only about an inch wide – but mighty in impact: a stunning, highly-detailed colorful example of the Victorian Egyptian Revival style.
This beauty features a fabulously dressed woman in a pink striped dress and glorious feathered Egyptian-style headdress. She’s in front of a richly colored plique-a-jour background in red and gold. She’s set in a border of old-cut diamonds and sapphires, creating a wonderful color contrast and a beautiful silhouette for the piece. As I said: tiny but packs a strong punch.
With a hinged pendant loop on the back, this pretty little brooch can also be worn on a necklace.
While the first piece of antique portrait jewelry is beautiful, the second is even more unique. And mind-bogglingly gorgeous, no?
This beauty dates to 1910 and shows a fantastically glamorous flamenco dancer in colorful enamel with a gold bangle and a diamond necklace and hair accessory. She’s so romantic – the roses in her dark, curly hair, the folds of her green gown, the curve of her shoulder as she turns slightly away from the viewer. She’s incredible. And her glamorous frame only adds to the overall effect of luscious, glamorous beauty.
She’s a signed piece by Fuset y Grau, who I wasn’t familiar with before now. Here’s SJ Phillips’ bio on the maker:
Fuset y Grau was a contemporary of Lluis Masriera, also based in Barcelona, and who worked in a similar artistic style through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two jewellers were amongst the leading representatives of the Spanish Modernista movement which was the Catalan variant of Art Nouveau. Fuset was a craftsman distinguished by his use of ivory, pearls, colored stones and yellow gold in his work. Although there is very little published about his jewellery, Fuset y Grau’s pieces were shown at the International Decorative Arts Exhibition in Paris, 1925.
After seeing this pendant, I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for more by Fuset y Grau.
These two pieces of antique portrait jewelry are both currently for sale at SJ Phillips. All images and info are thanks to SJ Phillips.