A Striking Gold, Emerald, Ruby and Pearl Brooch with Granulation and Rope Twist Decoration

A bold and striking gold and gem-set late 19th Century brooch by Wièse c.1890, the brooch of circular form and centred on a large round cabochon cut emerald in a rub over style setting with serrated edge decorated with granulation and a rope twist border, surrounded by four cabochon cut rubies and four natural cream pearls set alternately in rub over settings and each interspersed with a double scroll rope twist motif, within a border featuring a row of granulation between wirework edges, the emerald and rubies are open backed on the reverse which is fitted with a single brooch pin. The design shows the influence of both archaeological revival and renaissance styles and as was common for Wièse, the gems are set using antique-inspired methods. Louis Wièse was also known to use mercury oxide to distress the surface of metal, further enhancing the ‘aged’ appearance of his jewels. The colour and patina of this wonderful jewel would suggest that this technique may have been employed here and it has a hammered and hand-worked appearance, particularly evident on the back.

Further Details

Condition ReportVery fine
Setting18ct gold signed Wièse and with maker's mark and French assay mark
Weight description61 grams
Dimensions5.7cm / 2.2" diameter
Gemstones1 x cabochon emerald measuring approximately 20mm diameter and estimated to weigh approximately 30cts
4 x cabochon rubies estimated to weigh a combined total of approximately 6.7cts
4 x natural round cream pearls measuring 7-7.5mm diameter

Directors Notes

Louis Wièse took over the running of his father Jules’ workshop in 1880 and sought to continue the exemplary reputation for fine craftsmanship that his father had earned over the previous forty years. Louis continued working in the same tradition, producing beautifully crafted goldwork (sometimes to his father’s designs) which explored the familiar themes of the Neo-Renaissance and Gothic imagination whilst also looking to religion and archaeology to inspire him. His work was highly sculptural, often featuring figures which could be human or mythological in nature. He frequently employed grotesque beasts and gargoyles, ecclesiastic detailing and historic influences. If gems were used he would typically set them using antique-inspired methods and he was also known to use mercury oxide to distress the surface of metal, further enhancing the ‘aged’ appearance of his jewels. Enamelling was used to introduce colour and add another dimension to his pieces which are still highly regarded today and collected by a discerning group of individuals as well as contemporary goldsmiths. Examples of his jewellery can be found in major museums worldwide such as the British Museum and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Literature & Exhibitions

Cf. The Belle Époque of French Jewellery by Michael Koch et al. 1990 – p100 for a revivalist necklace made using similar red toned gold with rope twist detailing and the same style clasp.


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Jules Wièse is regarded as one of the finest silver and goldsmiths of the 19th Century. 

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