1887 Aesthetic Movement Victorian Bracelet

A gorgeous Victorian Aesthetic Movement 14k gold bracelet, inscribed for 5 Jan 1887, and crafted in a Japonisme style with the central decorative plaque decorated with a squirrel perched upon a pine tree. The use of colored gold (that is, karat gold alloyed with various metals to attain different colorings) and a burnished gold ground is imitative of Japanese Shakudō metalcraft, which employs similar craftsmanship methods to craft mixed-metal designs against a copper-gold body with a blackened surface treatment. The main form of the bracelet is however staunchly Victorian: the geometric millgrain and granulation to the clasp is Etruscan revival in style, while the braided mesh body evokes similar bracelets from the era made from weaved and braided hair. The continuous row of solid gold studs is, however, an unusual, bold, and handsome touch.

Incorporation of Far Eastern art and a preference for black accents (ebonized wood in furniture, burnished metals in jewelry) were key tenets to Aesthetic Movement design. This bracelet embodies both characteristics. Whether as protest against jewelry’s status as a luxury commodity loaded with social capital, or to promote the ‘bohemian’ artisan qualities of the movement, Aesthetic Movement style jewelry tended to be crafted in silver. Those made in solid gold are significantly harder to find.

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