Gem set, pearl and diamond demi-parure, circa 1800
Property of a Lady
Gem set, pearl and diamond demi-parure, circa 1800
The necklace composed of links set each set with three half pearls and a cushion-shaped topaz, amethyst, emerald, peridot or sapphire in closed back settings, spaced by figure-of-eight-shaped links set with half pearls and pansy motifs set with pear-shaped amethysts and topazes, accented by marquise-shaped emeralds and cushion-shaped diamonds, length approximately 550mm; together with a similar, later pair of pansy earrings, post fittings, fitted shagreen case.
Unsigned. Largest yellow topaz measuring approximately 14.5 x 17mm, emerald approximately 12.67 x 11.35mm, sapphire in clasp approximately 11.57 x 9.98mm, depths not measurable due to the closed back settings. Stones with some surface-reaching inclusions and areas of minor wear to facet edges, overall in good condition, with colours possibly enhanced by the foiled settings. Pearls untested for natural origin, of white body colour and good lustre, with some minor imperfections to nacre. Metal with some areas of discoloration consistent with age. Central link with pendant loop, pendant deficient. Clasp closing securely, overall in good condition. Ear clips later in date, each approximately 21mm diameter. Combined gross weight approximately 154 grams.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's). Please also note that we do not guarantee, and are not responsible for, any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the lot. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the relevant section the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
When Emma, Lady Hamilton, returned to London, after the French occupation of Naples in 1800, she was forced to sell the diamonds she had worn at the Neapolitan court, replacing them with more modest purchases from the London jeweller John Slater in the The Strand. It is said that Emma did not have a penchant for extravagant jewels and clothes, preferring more modest attire of the genteel middle class. It is known that she purchased gilt metal hair combs, pearl necklaces and earrings, both real and imitation as well as amethysts and aquamarines mounted in cannetille filigree settings, generally favoring the sentiment of The Regency period with padlocks, keys and lyre motifs. Emma also owned several Maltese Cross pendants that became a favorite of hers. Popularized by Emma after being presented with a Maltese cross by the Tsar in recognition for her charity work in aid of the Maltese under French occupation. She was later presented an example embellished with diamonds from Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, sister to the recently executed Queen Marie Antoinette, as an indirect compliment to Horatio Nelson, who was to orchestrate the evacuation of the royal family prior to the French occupation and later assist in quelling the Republican uprising. In 1800 Emma had her portrait painted by Johann Heinrich Schmidt wearing the Maltese cross which was subsequently kept by Horatio Nelson in his cabin on board HMS Victory.
The current necklace is an unusual and early survival of the fashionable jewels that prevailed during the 1800s. Multi-coloured stones and the sentimental use of the pansy motif in a setting that is an early precursor of the later filigree cannetille. The Napoleonic Wars had severely disrupted global trade and during this period it was common practice to re-set earlier jewels into more fashionable styles. The current necklace is an example of such remodeling, the principle stones are all set in foiled cut-down gold collets and are likely to have been re-used from several earlier 18th century rivieres, mounted in to more fashionable filigree settings, with the ever popular Pansy motifs using smaller gem stones as was the practice during this period. The necklace style and form are typical of the jewels that Emma, Lady Hamilton is known to have owned and worn on her return to London in 1800, the Pansy representing her love for Nelson and her platonic love for Sir William. The necklace also retains a pendant fitting which originally may have supported a Maltese Cross, a favorite of Emma’s. It is likely that Emma wore the current necklace at a concert given at the London home of the Duke of Norfolk in the company of the Prince of Wales in January 1801, where she is known to have made a spectacular appearance to win over the London press and diffuse any scandal surrounding her affair with Nelson. The necklace was subsequently later sold to the Countess of Aldborough, who gave it to Lady Campbell Barcaldine who bequeathed it to Miss Erica Rose Campbell of Barcaldine.