18th c Georgian Foiled Quartz Ouroboros Brooch

A rare and mesmerizing late 18th c Georgian ouroboros brooch, rendered in reticulated circular form as a serpent coiling to bite its own tail. The surface is entirely pave-set with sparkling foiled quartz stones, which were likely sourced locally in England from the Bristol area quartz mines (i.e. Bristol ‘diamonds’), with rubies as accents for the eyes. The style and workmanship of the setting, as well as the shape and cut of the stones, are all consistent with circa 1750 – 1800 Georgian brooches set with paste glass or chrysoberyl stones, particularly paste witches’ heart brooches commonly dated to circa 1770-80s. Also typical for the period, the setting is silver-topped 9k rose gold.

Called Ouroboros by the Greek (which means ‘tail devourer’), the motif of a snake consuming its own tail can be traced to ancient Egyptian religious iconography as a representation of both the beginning and the end of time. The ourobos found popularity in Europe beginning in the Renaissance period, when it was adopted by Alchemists and mystics, and again during the 18th century, when the form appeared in mourning jewelry. However, by the 19th century, the ouroboros (and by extension snakes and serpents) would become a well-known romantic symbol to represent love so eternal it supersedes the beginning and end of all things.

Antique brooch box is INCLUDED! This brooch was stored in this box when I acquired it. It is an Edwardian era box, and thus not original to the piece. The lining reads: “By appointment to H. M. the King. The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd. 112 Regent St. London. W.”

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