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An Elegant Etruscan Revival Gold Necklace

Circa 1870
Total length 370mm,
Pendants each 18mm in length
Weight: 88 grams


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Of archaeological inspiration, the foxtail chain necklace suspending a fringe of amphora-shaped drop pendants, spaced by plain jump rings and rope twist hoops, to a hook clasp.

From around 1860 and throughout the latter half of the 19th century, a series of archaeological discoveries across Europe aroused widespread interest the jewellery of ancient Greece and Rome. Capitalising on this newly rekindled interest in these jewels from antiquity were numerous Italian jewellers, led by Castellani, who studiously reproduced these ancient designs for a contemporary audience, painstakingly researching and experimenting to revive lost goldsmith techniques in pursuit of total accuracy. With a ready supply of international clientele embarking on their ‘grand tours’ of Italy and Greece, the passion for jewels in this ‘Archaeological Revival’ style soon spread throughout Europe and endured for several decades.

This necklace, with its fringe of amphorae pendants, is directly inspired by a type of necklace found across Greece and Italy. Though unsigned, the goldsmith who made this was clearly very well versed in this fashionable and very technically demanding style. From the tactile tapered pendants to the tiny rope twist details on each hoop, care has been taken to balance intricate detail with smooth, unadorned gold surfaces, creating a timelessly stylish jewel that is just as wearable now as it was when it was made.

For ancient prototypes of similar design, please see an Etruscan example unearthed near Rome, item no. 1872,0604.1004 in the collection of the British Museum, made in silver and amber and dating from the the 7th century BC, and a gold Hellenistic example in the same collection dating from circa 300 BC, item no. 1872,0604.660.

An Elegant Etruscan Revival Gold Necklace Reference: 22894.2