A c.1820-30 late Georgian cross pendant, effusively decorated with harlequin-type multicolored gems (emerald, amethyst, moonstone, quartz, agate, jargoon, lapis lazuli) against royal blue guilloché enamel, all within a frame of chased and granulated 18k colored gold. The asymmetrical arrangement and particular selection of gems suggest the design may be planetary. According to mineralogist George Frederick Kunz (1856–1932), planetary designs assigned gems (typically seven in number) to represent “the Sun, Moon, and five planets known to the ancient world” (p.327, Rings for the Finger). Since classical antiquity, heavenly bodies were believed to “possess a virtue peculiar to itself”, and planetary jewels were “worn by those who hope to attract to themselves the favorable influences of Sun, Moon, and planets” (p.328). Planet-gem pairings vary depending on the source, but moonstone almost always represented the moon, while diamond the sun. The present pendant does indeed feature seven gem types, with the rose cut jargoon most likely a diamond substitute. As for the remaining gems, amethyst likely represents Venus, emerald Mars, agate Jupiter, Lapis Saturn, and quartz Mercury.
Jewelry of the 1820-30s encapsulates a high-point in the breadth of available decorative techniques. Gold scarcity following the Napoleonic wars encouraged craftsmen to be particularly creative in maximizing the visual attractiveness of gold, resulting in the refinement of techniques like chasing, repoussé-work, cannetille filigree, and granulation. The early Romantic movement of this period brought back a preference for color, fanciful ornamentation, and floral motifs. Enameling, already a matured art, was favored for its polychrome look, though in particular, the improved ability to refine cobalt ore enabled enamelers to create a pure and intense shade of royal blue, which was often enhanced with under-enamel engraving for a guilloché effect. Displays of color were further aided by increased English leasing of color gem mines in Minas Gerais following Brazilian independence in 1822, thereby increasing the supply and available color palette of gems in the British market. Like others of its design type, the present pendant is an exuberant synthesis of multigem pairing, colored gold chasing, and enameling. For other examples of c.1820-30 cross pendants, see Victoria & Albert Museum M.39-1962 & M.169-1978, and Saint-Pierre Church Chênée inv 10101292. The chased blossom ornaments and grainetti granulation on the present pendant is also highly similar to a late Georgian harlequin pendant in the Royal Collection Trust (RCIN 65299)