This magnificent necklace features a variety of antique treasures on a handwoven, gold-filled chain:
- banded agate circle charm with red enamel Maltese cross and black taille d' epargne scrolls on the reverse side
- three antique pinchbeck fobs with amethyst glass stones (most likely were wax seals which were then repurposed and set with the stones).
- three gold-filled lockets: antique gold-filled oval locket with paste stones, vintage gold-filled locket with etched diamond and banded design, and antique, gold-filled Bliss Brothers locket with etched floral design and paste stones
- carnelian etched fob with image of Roman soldier in profile set in a gold-filled scrolled bezel
- antique, gold-filled watch pin with art glass opal stone
- round, antique gold-filled fob with etched starburst design and paste stone
- antique gold-filled love knot brooch with turquoise glass focal stone and oak leaf design, converted into a charm
Details and Materials
- 21" long, can clasp shorter
- gold-filled lobster clasp and jump rings
- Antique gold-filled charms
- the three lockets all open and shut securely, but are missing inside picture holders
- charms dangle 1 - 1 1/2" from chain
So much history behind this necklace! Here are a few historical nuggest about some of the charms on this necklace . . .
Banded agate was a popular stone in the mid-nineteenth century England, influenced by Queen Victoria's trips to Scotland to visit her Balmoral estate, where agate jewelry had been made for hundreds of years. Most of these stones were very colorful and ornate, however darker stones were also favored as a symbol of mourning.
The fob seals in this necklace are made of pinchbeck, an alloy of copper and zinc (like brass) but mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles the appearance of gold. It was invented in the 18th century by Christopher Pinchbeck, a London clockmaker. The exact formula was a very closely guarded family secret and hence difficult for other jewelers to copy. Much like today, jewelry made from high carat gold was out of the reach of most people so this more affordable alloy became very popular. The wealthy also loved it since they could travel with credible reproductions of their valuable jewelry without worrying about loss from theft while on the road. Pinchbeck's popularity declined in the mid-1800s, when nine karat gold (which contains 9/24 parts gold) became legal, allowing buyers to acquire gold jewelry made from a less expensive version of that precious metal.
Lockets are another enduring legacy of the Victorian era. Victoria amassed a significant collection and they served as time capsules for the various stages of her life. An excellent article describing "All the Queen's Lockets" provides more info for those of you seeking more details. The gold-filled lockets in this necklace date from 1900 - 1940. The oldest locket in the group is likely the vertical oval-shaped one, engraved with the maker's mark of the Bliss Brothers Company founded in 1873 in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The jewelry industry in the United States launched in southern New England beginning in the 18th century. Crossing the border between Attleboro, MA and Providence, RI, craftsmen originally formed metal into silver buttons for Revolutionary War officers’ uniforms. Attleboro was once heralded as "The Jewelry Capital of the World" due to its many jewelry manufacturers. Rhode Island also laid claim to this title.