18th c Spanish Iberian Emerald Pendant

A gorgeous Iberian stomacher pendant, made in Spain (probably Cordoba) during the third quarter of the 18th century, and encrusted with 71 individual table-cut emeralds weighing approximately 4 ctw within a setting and body of chased, filigree-worked, articulated, and granulated high-carat 18k yellow gold. The upper element features a rosette roundel with an urn-shaped finial, framed by a fanciful four-looped bow with lace-like floral edging and reticulated foliate sprays. Called a lazo by the Spanish and popularized by the Marquise de Sévigné in France, bow-shaped bodice ornaments were considered the height of style during the 18th century. The central element, with its stylized rendering of a floral spray, is adapted from popular French-inspired rococo designs of the day, and is related to giardinetti rings from the same period, while the bottom element, a tear-shaped drop with emeralds in a rosette setting can also be found in Spanish pendant earrings. This pendant would have been originally worn on a ribbon inserted through the wide loops attached along the reverse. Sometime during the 20th century, it was fitted with a bail and brooch fittings. Typical for the period, the back is heavily punched three times with a lion sergeant hallmark and the letters ‘CO’ (probably a regional mark for Cordoba, Spain). For a large pendant dating from the same period, with an almost identical upper bow element, refer to Victoria & Albert Museum object M.84-1913.

The pairing of bright high-carat gold with emeralds is a color paletteiconic in its association with 17th-18th century Iberian jewelry. Since the 16th century, Spain’s maritime exploits had cemented its status as a leading power during the Age of Sail. A global mercantile empire had brought in raw materials for Spanish jewelers in abundance: silver from Mexico and Bolivia; gold and emeralds from Colombia; coral and pearls from Central and South America; rubies from Southeast Asia; and other precious gems from Brazil and India. In particular, emerald mines in Columbia, Brazil, and Peru were notably rich; by the 17th century, the very best Spanish jewellery (such as the magnificent Crown of Andes) came to be associated with a feverish use of emeralds. These pieces are at once delicate and bold, full of exuberant energy, and instantly brings to mind the narratives of a specific place and era.

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Date: c. 1750 – 1775, third quarter of the 18th century

Materials: natural South American emeralds (Columbia, Brazil, or Peru), solid 18k gold (marked and tested)

[A lion sergeant] punched in three places, for solid 18k gold
[CO] possibly regional mark for Cordoba, Spain

Workmanship origin: Spain, likely Cordoba

Sourced from: Munich, Germany

Weight: 17.8 grams

Height: 78 mm

Width (at widest point): 55 mm

Dimension of Lazlo Bow: 55 x 42 mm

Dimension of Middle Floral Element: 24 x 22 mm

Dimension of Lower Drop: 25 x 20 mm

Total Emerald Count: 71

Dimension of Emeralds (in mm): three largest- 5.5 x 4.5, 4.5 x 3.5, 4 x 3.4
The rest – 3.7 x 3, 3.5 x 2.2, 3.4 x 3 (triangular cut), 3.3 x 2.7, two at 3.2 x 3, two at 3.2 x 2.2, 3.1 x 2.7, four at 3 x 2.4, two at 2.7 x 2.5, 2.7 x 2, 2.6 x 2.6, 2.6 x 2.2, 2.5 x 2.5, 2.5 x 2.3, 2.5 x 1.5, two at 2.4 x 2.4, two at 2.4 x 2, 1.8 x 1.8, fourteen at 1.6 x 1.6

Estimated total emerald weight: 4 – 4.5 ctw

Condition: overall in excellent state of preservation for age. Stones are original. No replacements, repairs, or missing elements. The 14k brooch mechanism and bail to the back is a later 20th century addition. Under 60x loupe magnification, I can spot some abrasion, chips, wear to the emeralds (particularly along facet junctions and edges). Most of these surface flaws are hard to spot with the naked eye; no stone is badly chipped (please keep in mind that emeralds, by their very nature, tend to fracture easily).