An Elegant Etruscan Revival Gold Necklace, Circa 1870

An Elegant Etruscan Revival Gold Necklace, Circa 1870

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.

Total length: 370 mm
Length of pendants: 18 mm


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 jewellers, led by the Italian jewellers Castellani, who assembled an immense collection of these ancient jewels and studiously reproduced them for a contemporary audience.

With a ready supply of international clientele embarking on their ‘grand tours’ of Italy and Greece, as well as Castellani's rapturous reception at various international jewellery exhibitions, the passion for jewels in this ‘Archaeological Revival’ style soon spread throughout Europe. Other jewellers who produced works in this style included Castellani's former protegé Giacinto Melillo and Ernesto Pierret in Rome, as well as Gustave Baugrand and Eugene Fontenay in France, and Robert Phillips, John Brogden and Carlo Giuliano in London. The style endured for several decades, expanding beyond Greece and Rome to embrace ancient jewels from various other cultures including Ireland, Assyria and Egypt.

Though this necklace is unsigned, the goldsmith who forged it was clearly highly trained and very well versed in this fashionable and 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.


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