Antique Cut Steel Button and Chainmaille Necklace

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This necklace features a handwoven oxidized sterling chain with a large, antique cut steel shoe button with blue, purple, gold, bronze and silver-colored studs, circa 1880.

Materials and Details

  • necklace made from sterling silver-filled jump rings
  • sterling silver lobster clasp with pave diamond ring
  • antique cut steel button is 40 mm 
  • chainmaille necklace is 20" in length
  • chainmaille bail and button drop 3" from the base of the necklace

Origin Story

Cut steel jewelry gained popularity in France during the 18th century when King Louis demanded that citizens turn in their diamonds to help fund war efforts. This type of jewelry features tiny faceted and polished steel studs carved to mimic diamonds and individually riveted in place. Similar in appearance to marcasite, cut steels sparkle brilliantly when polished. Pieces can be dated by looking at the size of the cut steels, which were individually hand-riveted, and the number of facets. Older pieces feature smaller studs with as many as 15 facets. Cut steel jewelry fell out of fashion in the early 20th century when production quality declined and other trends emerged.