Porcelain

Porcelain is a frequently found material in antique and period jewelry, especially during the 1800s.  It is a type of ceramic that lends itself very well to jewelry as it is hard, translucent and heat resistant.  Before the advent of the first photographs used in jewelry in 1839 (daguerreotypes) miniature portraits were often painted on porcelain and worn as brooches or pendants.  After this date, porcelain portraits are still found although not as frequently.  Painted porcelain is not just for portraits however; bucolic scenes, flowers, Classical Revival and other motifs are found frequently in antique rings, pendants, earrings, brooches and necklaces.  Also, unpainted but delicately sculpted porcelain, often in the shape of flowers, was popular. Unglazed porcelain is referred to as ‘biscuit’.  Wedgewood worked often with unglazed porcelain.

Pendant

Spain, c. 1700-1800
Pendant, gilded silver set with pastes and a porcelain plaque.
V&A Museum

Brooch

Paris, c. 1862
Brooch, painted porcelain plaque, inscribed, open silver mount with enamel decoration, set with garnets.
V&A Museum

Brooch

England, c. 1816-1840
Brooch, biscuit porcelain plaque set in a plain gold slip
V&A Museum

Brooch

Germany, c. 1860
Brooch, painted porcelain, jet, gilded copper alloy
V&A Museum

Pair of earrings

Germany, mid 18th century
Earrings, gold and painted porcelain.
V&A Museum

 

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