1890s French Turquoise Diamond Pendant

A handsome and beyond elegant turn-of-the-century antique pendant, of solid 15k gold encrusted with chunky rose-cut diamonds and set in the center with a Persian turquoise ‘sugarloaf’ cabochon. As per common practice prior to the arrival of platinum and white gold, the setting of the diamonds is silver, which over time has oxidized to an attractive gunpowder gray. The side of the pendant is marked with the French ‘owl’ and ‘swan’, hallmarks that guarantee the solid gold and silver content, respectively, of foreign-made jewelry imported for the French market; these guarantee marks were stamped only after a local French assay office had examined the articles for precious metal content.

Please note that the gold surface has been ‘bloomed’, a coloring technique used by jewelers during the turn of the century to burn away alloys on karat gold’s surface by dipping the material in a special acid mix (muriatic acid, potassium nitrate, salt and water). The resulting surface appears velvety and matte.

It would appear that the design of this pendant borrows from Judeo-Christian mystical numerology. The diamond star has six sides, which is a well-known shape called a hexagram. In Judaism, it is known as the Star of David. In Christianity, it is sometimes called the Star of Creation, and can be seen on the stained windows of many early European cathedrals (such as the 14th c. Winchester Cathedral in England).

The pendant’s outer star bears 12 points, making it a dodecagon star, which again holds significance in Judeo-Christian traditions. The number 12 points to the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 Christan apostles, and the 12th day of Christmas (Epiphany).

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