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Mid Victorian Banded Agate and Enamel Greek Key Mourning Locket

$1,600.00
About Details History
This striking, heavy, beautifully made locket is fashioned in 18k yellow gold with a crisp Greek key pattern rendered in black enamel and a black and white banded agate cabochon at the center. The Greek key design, also known as a meander, takes its moniker from the Meander river in what was Ancient Greece and is now modern day Turkey. The river's serpentine path was considered a symbol of the infinity and the eternal flow of life, the tidy geometric pattern named for the river is an important motif in Ancient Greek art and architecture. Symbols of eternity are frequently seen decorating Victorian era mourning jewelry i.e. the ouroboros, the garter or belt, and the meander lends itself to this decorative use perfectly. The interior holds two empty lockets that very likely once housed locks of hair or perhaps a portrait miniature. Along the frame of one locket is an engraved dedication, "In memory of a dear Father dies Augt [August] 2 1864." Hangs from a new 18" 14k gold chain.

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  • Materials: 18k yellow gold (tests), black enamel, banded agate, glass, new 14k gold chain
  • Age: engraved for 1864
  • Condition: Very good - most likely there was once a lock of hair in the locket but it is now empty
  • Size: 1 3/8" length including the bale, 3/4" at the widest point, 18" chain
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VICTORIAN (1837 - 1901) The Western world was thoroughly transformed during Queen Victoria’s epically long reign. New technology, urbanization, and industrialization created a middle class flush with disposable income, and for the first time, jewelry was mass-produced to sell to everyone. The Victorians were avid consumers and novelty-seekers, especially when it came to fashion, and numerous fads came and went throughout the 19th century. In jewelry, whatever fashion choices Queen V. made reverberated throughout the kingdom. The Romantic period reflected the queen’s legendary love for her husband, Albert. Jewelry from this period featured joyful designs like flowers, hearts, and birds, all which often had symbolic meaning. The queen’s betrothal ring was made in the shape of a snake, which stood for love, fidelity, and eternity. The exuberant tone shifted after Prince Albert passed away in 1861, marking the beginning of the Grand Period. Black jewelry became de rigeur as the Queen and her subjects entered “mourning,” which at the time represented not just an emotional state, as we conceive of it today, but a specific manner of conduct and dress. She wore the color black for the remainder of her life, and we see lots of black onyx, enamel, jet, and gutta percha in the jewelry from this time. Finally, during the late Victorian period, which transitioned along with a rapidly changing world into the “Aesthetic Movemement”, there was a return to organic and whimsical motifs: serpents, crescent moons, animals, and Japonaisserie designed for the more liberated “Gibson Girl”. During the second half of the 19th century, America entered the global jewelry market, with Tiffany and Co. leading the way. Lapidaries continued to perfect their techniques, and the old European cut emerged toward the end of the Victorian period. The discovery of rich diamond mines in South Africa made the colorless stones more accessible than ever before.
less
more

About Details History
This striking, heavy, beautifully made locket is fashioned in 18k yellow gold with a crisp Greek key pattern rendered in black enamel and a black and white banded agate cabochon at the center. The Greek key design, also known as a meander, takes its moniker from the Meander river in what was Ancient Greece and is now modern day Turkey. The river's serpentine path was considered a symbol of the infinity and the eternal flow of life, the tidy geometric pattern named for the river is an important motif in Ancient Greek art and architecture. Symbols of eternity are frequently seen decorating Victorian era mourning jewelry i.e. the ouroboros, the garter or belt, and the meander lends itself to this decorative use perfectly. The interior holds two empty lockets that very likely once housed locks of hair or perhaps a portrait miniature. Along the frame of one locket is an engraved dedication, "In memory of a dear Father dies Augt [August] 2 1864." Hangs from a new 18" 14k gold chain.

less
more

  • Materials: 18k yellow gold (tests), black enamel, banded agate, glass, new 14k gold chain
  • Age: engraved for 1864
  • Condition: Very good - most likely there was once a lock of hair in the locket but it is now empty
  • Size: 1 3/8" length including the bale, 3/4" at the widest point, 18" chain
less
more
VICTORIAN (1837 - 1901) The Western world was thoroughly transformed during Queen Victoria’s epically long reign. New technology, urbanization, and industrialization created a middle class flush with disposable income, and for the first time, jewelry was mass-produced to sell to everyone. The Victorians were avid consumers and novelty-seekers, especially when it came to fashion, and numerous fads came and went throughout the 19th century. In jewelry, whatever fashion choices Queen V. made reverberated throughout the kingdom. The Romantic period reflected the queen’s legendary love for her husband, Albert. Jewelry from this period featured joyful designs like flowers, hearts, and birds, all which often had symbolic meaning. The queen’s betrothal ring was made in the shape of a snake, which stood for love, fidelity, and eternity. The exuberant tone shifted after Prince Albert passed away in 1861, marking the beginning of the Grand Period. Black jewelry became de rigeur as the Queen and her subjects entered “mourning,” which at the time represented not just an emotional state, as we conceive of it today, but a specific manner of conduct and dress. She wore the color black for the remainder of her life, and we see lots of black onyx, enamel, jet, and gutta percha in the jewelry from this time. Finally, during the late Victorian period, which transitioned along with a rapidly changing world into the “Aesthetic Movemement”, there was a return to organic and whimsical motifs: serpents, crescent moons, animals, and Japonaisserie designed for the more liberated “Gibson Girl”. During the second half of the 19th century, America entered the global jewelry market, with Tiffany and Co. leading the way. Lapidaries continued to perfect their techniques, and the old European cut emerged toward the end of the Victorian period. The discovery of rich diamond mines in South Africa made the colorless stones more accessible than ever before.
less
more