Georgian 18K Gold Green Emerald Paste Stomacher Pendant Antique Pre Victorian
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- Yellow Gold
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An exceptionally rare surviving example of an original early Georgian "stomacher" jewel pendant, actually three pendants, crafted entirely in solid 18K yellow gold and set with emerald coloured foil backed pastes. Quite a jewel.
This bespoke centuries old piece is quite something. Not just the scale and the craftmanship but also it's absolute rarity. Very few of these jewels survive, mostly what we see are modern reproductions produced in Spain and elsewhere. Holding this piece, it is an amazing feeling to think about where it has been and what it has seen.
Stomacher jewels had their origins in the 16th century and remained fashionable until the 1920s. They were originally worn attached to the stomacher or the centre of the bodice with laces or ribbons. By Georgian times, some attached with a brooch pin. Stomacher jewels were worn at various heights depending upon the fashion and necklines of gowns at the time and the size and design of the piece itself. Some could be worn in the fashion of a pendant. They were often articulated and some were fashioned so the individual articulated jewels could be detached and worn separately. Stomacher jewels of this kind are also termed devants de corsage or corsage adornments.
To ensure that it drapes perfectly when worn, it is articulated in two places, between the upper and middle jewels and again between the middle and lower jewel. To further increase the impression of fluidity, movement and glitter, it is set en tremblant with ten suspended foil back emerald colored paste drops which catch the light and your eye and tremble whenever the wearer moves.The design features the lovely cross and bow motifs of the period. Other beautiful focal points are the handmade repousse haloes of golden sunrays around the larger stones. All embraced by the lovely lacework, completed entirely in precious solid 18K yellow gold. Foil backed pastes were often used in Georgian precious gold jewelry for several reasons.
First, they looked wonderful, eye flawless and perfectly matched for colour. As you can see in this piece, the vibrant green of the foil back pastes is just perfect. High quality Georgian pastes also dazzled and sparkled in the low light of enormous rooms lit only by candles and oil lamps. In this kind of light they outperformed the emeralds and rose cut diamonds of the day. Secondly, it was relatively easy to source the dozens of different sized and shaped stones required for a piece like this. To acquire enough perfectly colour matched flawless emeralds in the range of sizes and shapes for a piece like this might, in Georgian times, take the jeweller half a lifetime. Thirdly, the use of pastes in a piece of this kind meant that it could be afforded by the merely very wealthy, those individuals of great wealth but lacking the unlimited budget of say royalty, the kind of budget necessary if these lovely stones were in fact flawless perfect colour matched emeralds.
This striking jewel is 4 3/8" long by 2 1/4" wide by 11/16" deep (111 x 57 x 17mm), the depth not including the two suspension bales on the reverse. It weighs a substantial 47.5 grams. This piece was made to impress.
Like similar jewels of time, this piece was designed so it could be disarticulated and all three sections worn separately or combined in various fashions. For example, the lower two jewels would be unclipped from the upper jewel and worn together as a beautiful jewelled gold cross. The lowest jewel could be worn by itself as a lovely drop pendant. The largest jewel could be worn by itself or with the small bottom jewel suspended from it. Looking at the photographs, one can imagine these pleasing alternatives. This particular piece appears to have always been worn in its grandest form with all three components together. Indeed, the articulation hooks have been pressed very slightly closed to prevent the individual jewels being separated by hand. It would be a moments work for a skilled jeweller to open the articulation hooks just very slightly and restore the capacity to wear the individual jewels separately and in combination as described.
There are 36 square cut emerald green paste gems and 11 suspended pear cut paste drops and in this jewel. When this piece was made it looks as though there would have been an additional six or seven suspended pear cut paste drops attached to the largest jewel. These appear to have been removed, probably to make a matching pair of earrings, either for the original wearer or for a descendant. Inherited family jewels that are not often worn or have gone out of fashion quite often suffer this kind of predation from a worthy descendant looking to make something more wearable but that still reminds her of her ancestor. Family tiaras often suffer a similar fate. Even royal families don't set a good example in this regard! This piece is so grand in terms of size, design and sheer number of stones, that it is in fact very difficult to make out where these drops have been removed. It is not at all apparent on casual observation and to my mind in no way diminishes the beauty or impact of the piece. In fact, it is features like this that speak of a centuries old treasured family jewel with tales to tell, and are part of the history and charm of genuine antiques. Something completely lacking in perfect but lifeless modern reproductions.
I am just imagining how divine this would look on some thick black silk velvet ribbon as a choker worn high on the neck. Just as glamorous worn with a gold chain or jewelled necklace of any length.
A wonderful addition to your own collection or a perfect gift for any woman with a passion for the period.
This lovely piece has been examined by a specialist antique jewellery appraiser and gemmologist. Included is the certificate of appraisal.