written by Sammy
Mosaic jewellery was at its zenith in the 19th century - ascribable to the classical revival and the heavy influence of ancient Greek and Roman culture.
The method of making a mosaic may appear simple, however, it requires immense skill and patience. A painstaking process whereby small sections, or tesserae, are produced from fine rods of coloured glass and are glued together to create patterns or pictures; exotic animals, classical architecture, commemorative landmarks, landscapes and even family pets were popular subject matters. These fine works of art would be framed by hardstone or coloured glass and then set in an outer gold metal frame – for both protection and decoration of the final centre artworks.
Another jewellery adroitness closely associated with mosaic jewellery is Inlay Jewellery. Hardstone, inlay jewellery is also referred to as Florentine work. Often smaller pieces of specimen agates, lapis lazuli, malachite, or less often, turquoise and coral were cut into the required shape to assemble the motif; rose petals would be carefully cut from different shades of coral to achieve a veristic image of a rose in full bloom. Each piece of carved hardstone would then be set in carved or flat coloured marble and, like mosaic works, mounted in gold or silver, or uncommonly jet. A time-consuming practice that demanded precise skill to achieve, the art of the 18 th century snuffbox makers and ébénistes advanced further in the evolution of jewellery making.
- Ébénistes: A cabinet maker, particularly one who works with ebony (a dark natural wood).
Featured Image: Adrien-Jean Maximilien Vachette, Clemente Ciuli, Bonbonnière with Micromosaic - Depicting a Profile Head of Bacchus, micromosaic 1804, box 1809/1819, gift of Lady Marjorie Gilbert in honor of Arthur Gilbert's Birthday.
Left Image: Cooper Hewitt; Suite of micro mosaic jewellery, circa 1800 to 1825.
Right Image: Tessera Auctions, Bracelet of hard stones. Florentine work, circa 1860.