Hancocks London’s Jewel of the Month adds a wonderful splash of colour as we enter the month of May. This beautiful antique gold and coral fringe necklace, dated circa 1860s, is a superb example of the very finest coral jewellery from the Victorian era.
It is in the popular mid-19th century archaeological revival style and has been wrought in the most beautiful and skilfully worked gold with Etruscan inspired design. Details such as the finely woven chain, delicate flowers and tiny scrolls recall the quality and style of Italian master goldsmiths of the period such Castellani and Melillo. As with all exceptional jewellery, care has been taken over the appearance of the reverse of this necklace as evidenced by the little gold flower details to the back of the coral boutons.
Coral, or Corallium Rubrum to give this prized orangey red variety its proper name, has long been associated with Italy and the coastal city of Naples in particular. Diving for coral in the Mediterranean Sea dates back to Roman times when it was believed that coral could heal wounds, cure infertility and diagnose diseases. However, it was as a protective charm against evil, especially for children, that it was most highly revered. By the 15th century, Naples and especially the port area known as Torre del Greco had become renowned for the harvesting and processing of fine quality material. The industry grew so large that during the mid 1800s, almost two thousand boats were sailing daily to fish for coral in order to satisfy the demand for this precious gem.
Guy Burton, Director, Hancocks London, comments: “Nineteenth century Italian goldsmiths often used this beautiful organic material in their jewels and we see it carved into cameos and amulets as well as polished into beads and cabochons. All the pieces in this necklace have been beautifully matched for colour and quality and have been cut and polished by an expert hand. Likely to have been made in either Rome or Naples, pieces like this were popular souvenirs for the aristocracy and nobility who travelled through Europe on what became known as The Grand Tour. It has survived in marvellous condition and we are delighted to offer this to our clients.”