1878 Victorian ‘North Star’ 15k Gold Locket

A handsome antique Victorian locket, inscribed for 20 July 1878, and crafted in a buttery solid 15k yellow gold, with the front bearing a pearl inlaid and blue enamel lined star in raised relief. The gold surface has been acid-treated for a semi-matte texture. Weighing a substantial 20 grams, this locket is heavier and larger than many other examples from the same era. A similarly designed locket can be found in “Portrait of a Lady, probably Lady Florence Emily Hesketh” by Frederick Sandys, dated by Victoria & Albert museum as late 1870s, which aligns perfectly with this present locket’s inscription date.

Much of this piece is replete with achingly romantic undertones. The inscription, “C. E. L. to E. J. W – 20 · 7 · 78”, suggest this locket was a sentimental sweetheart gift. The interior still contains the photograph of a handsome young man, sporting whiskers that were the height of fashion in the post-Crimean War Victorian world. The star to the locket front brings to mind the North Star and the Star of Bethlehem, which in the 19th century imagination symbolized guidance, direction, and a firm constancy in spirit and affection. Or, as the poet John Keats wrote,

“Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art— […]
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.”

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