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from the archive
PinchbeckBanded AgateSnake Locket

This BIG, bold, freaky, friendly snake holds a banded agate-studded locket in his mouth. On the reverse, there's a framed glass panel that opens so you can add a photo, if you like (it may require the assistance of a local jeweler). It's made in pinchbeck, a metal alloy invented in the 18th century by a guy named Christopher Pinchbeck. It was designed to be a cheap substitute for gold, so the word "pinchbeck" has been idiomatically used to describe something fake, junky, or counterfeit.


  • Materials

    Pinchbeck, banded agate, glass (locket)

  • Age

    c. 1840

  • Condition

    Good. Large agate oval is cracked but repaired solidly

  • Size

    6.6 x 3.7 x 1.4cm (including bail). Bail: 2.2 x 1.2cm. Main stone: 3.5 x 2.8cm

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RelatedHistory Lesson

Pinchbeck& Gold Alternatives

The best “costume jewelry” during the Georgian era was pinchbeck, a top-secret formula that looked — and wore — just like gold.