Antique Conversion: 18 Kt. Gold, Diamond & Sapphire Devil's Head Earrings "El Diablo"
Lovingly nicknamed "El Diablo," these fanciful yet fierce earrings could be your personal protector from evil spirits and bad luck. They are in the form of what are most likely Devil's heads or possibly Gargoyles or Grotesques, circa 1900/10. What captivated us? The rich color of the 18 Kt. gold, and the sparkling old cut diamonds clasped in their mouths. Did they just snatch them away?
We have carefully converted these cuff links to earrings. The 22 kt gold ear wires were shaped specifically to fit the dangling devils and we selected the perfect pair of Sapphires to dangle at the bottom. Their cornflower blue, adds just a touch of color which contrasts beautifully with the deep yellow of the gold and the sparkling white of the diamonds. The Sapphires are particularly special in that they are untreated, unheated and we can tell you their origin, Sri Lanka.
About Gargoyles, Grotesques and the Devil
As it turns out, the question, "what is a Gargoyle?" is a little easier to answer than is the question "What does one look like?". The Gargoyle, originating in antiquity and re-popularized during the Gothic period (mid 12th c. - 16th c.) has continued to be utilized even in more relatively modern times (19th and early 20th centuries). Gargoyles and Grotesques are quite similar in fact. The primary difference between the two is not so much in what they look like, but in what they do.
In Architecture, a Gargoyle has a water spout in its mouth that directs water away from a building preventing damage. The most famous examples of Gargoyles are those of Notre Dame de Paris. Both Gargoyles and Grotesques are monsters or mythical creatures that are part man and part beast (e.g. lion, dragon), and sometimes described as a demon of sorts. Their features, or incorporation of which animal depends upon the period and their geographical location. In ancient times, Greece/Rome/Egypt their faces were more Lion-like. Both are said to protect those they guard from evil or harmful spirits.
A Grotesque, is similar in appearance, but does not have a water spout function. A grotesque can be found as part of an ornamental feature on a corbel or as capital.
When re-imagined in other art forms (decorative arts/jewelry), the functional aspect disappears and they become more or less the same thing, varying depending upon the artist's interpretation.
Dimensions & Details:
- The earrings are approximately 3/4 inch or 19 mm in length, from the top of the devil's head to the bottom of the Sapphire.
- The earrings are 18 Kt gold with 22 Kt gold shepherd's hooks.
- The total diamond carat weight is approximately .4 or up to 1/2 carat.
- The total sapphire carat weight is just over 1/2 carat untreated, unheated, from Sri Lanka.
Period & Hallmarks
- Early 20th c. Not marked, tested 18 Kt gold.
- The earrings are in good antique condition, with general wear, surface scratches and patina that one would expect in a piece of this age. One diamond is an old European cut diamond and one is a transitional cut diamond. The transitional cut diamond has a tiny nibble in the corner (only visible via magnification).
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