Antique: Victorian Etruscan Revival Drop Earrings
Archaeological finds, travel and a love for the classical periods, prompted Fortunato Pio Castellani (and his son Alessandro Castellani) to create pieces reminiscent of the Etruscan goldsmiths. This fueled the popularity of the Etruscan Revival period of the 19th c. in the jewelry world.
These drop earrings (circa 1880) crafted from 18 kt gold, are one of the loveliest examples of this style we have seen. The granulation and gold wire is perfectly executed and we especially like the tiny floral garland around mid-point of the drop. The warm burnished glow in a deep yellow gold is the result of a technique called bloomed gold. Effectively a high carat gold wash (22-24 kt), in this case over 18 kt gold.
Dimensions & Details:
- The earrings are approximately 1.9 inches in length (not including the wires/Shepherd's hooks).
- The earrings are 18 Kt gold with a 22 Kt gold bloom and 22 kt gold wires.
- Purchased in France. Most likely origin is France, but possibly England.
Period & Hallmarks
- Victorian/Napoleon II. Circa 1880.
- The earrings are in good antique condition, with general wear, surface scratches and a patina that one would expect in a piece of this age. There a few, small shallow dents. One very minor narrow split: not eye visible, very hard to find with magnification, not structural.
- Originally found with broken earring wires, we had our expert antique jeweler create new 22 kt yellow gold shepherd's hooks which are consistent with the type of earring finding for this period and style.
Earring Care: Please note antique jewelry is somewhat delicate by nature. Don't clean the bloomed gold with anything but a soft damp cloth. Avoid putting pressure on the wire work. Chemical cleaning may alter the soft brushed patina of the bloomed gold finish. Store the earrings in a soft cloth pouch or in something similar that will keep the earrings from rubbing up against other pieces and potentially pulling at the wire work decoration.
The Original Etruscans and the 19th Century Etruscan Revival
The Etruscans (500 B.C. - 300 B.C.) were famous for their gold working skills. They were known for their ability to manipulate metals, gold etc. into intricate patterns without modern goldsmithing tools and conveniences. Granulated gold is one such technique which is often associated with the Etruscan period. The Etruscans were able to make and attach minute gold balls in order to create detailed and complex patterns. Fusing them to another gold surface, without the use of a controlled torch or modern solder.
In the mid 1800's, archaeological discoveries inspired jewelers and artisans to revive and borrow from the designs of ancient civilizations. One jeweler in particular, Fortunato Pio Castellani, is thought to be largely responsible for the re-popularization of "Archaeological Jewels" across Europe and Great Britain. He created jeweled masterpieces based upon classical design. He was a lifelong student of ancient civilizations, who studied their metalworking techniques, visited archaeological excavations, and collected their treasures. His pieces are known for his exquisite craftsmanship.
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