Evaluating Some French Gold Chrysoprase Earrings

France, c. 1825
Earrings, enamelled gold with chrysoprases  V&A Museum

In today’s post I am going to discuss these beautiful earrings, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Firstly, we know they from between 1819 to 1838 as the V&A tells us they are marked.  That will also be how we know they are French.  But even if we didn’t know this, the style is very much from that era and typically Western European.  Many earrings designed like this from the time would have been called ‘day to night’ earrings and you would have been able to detach the bottom part of the earrings if you choose to create a less showy look; V&A doesn’t tell us if this is the case or not but I strongly suspect it is.

Another thing we can surmise is that the gold is a high karat, at least 18 karat, as this would have been usual for gold jewelry of that era and especially in France. The gold also appears to be rose gold, which would mean it would be alloyed with copper.  Rose gold is typical of the entire 1800s and early part of the 1900s.

The stones are chrysoprases, which are a type of chalcedony.  They are really very common in Victorian era jewelry.  The stones in these earrings appear to be cabochons (unfaceted) but it is possible that the larger stones have some subtle faceted around the edges, it is hard to tell with the way the light is shining on them.  

Another notable thing about these earrings is the way they are bordered with grainti.  This is typical of the era, particularly in France where the technique was first revived.

The metalwork itself is openwork and would have probably been made from separate pieces soldered together.

The enamel work is created with a simple technique, I believe by looking at it is Champlevé enamel work, which would be created by making hollowed out indentations in the metal and then filling with the enamel.

The blue flowers are reminiscent of forget-me-nots which was a common motif in that era and could have been meant to convey a message.

Also, very typically of the era, are the findings, which appear to be the front closing kind.  This kind of closure nearly always places earrings as being from before 1882.  However, it is always wise when evaluating a piece of jewelry to look at all the clues as a whole.


V&A Museum

Sources / further reading:



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