Property of a Lady


Lot Closed

September 11, 01:10 PM GMT


12,000 - 18,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property of a Lady



Comprising: a necklace of festoon design, the snake link chain suspending a series of carnelian, chalcedony, phrenite, smokey quartz, lapis lazuli and bloodstone intaglio pendants depicting Apollo and a various Greco-Roman goddesses and female figures, length approximately 372mm; and a pair of pendent earrings of similar design, hook fittings, fitted case stamped Hunt & Roskell; 1870s.

To view Shipping Calculator, please click here

Fringed with multicoloured pendants depicting Greco-Roman deities, this extraordinary demi-parure beautifully illustrates the vogue for cameos and intaglios that swept Europe in the 19th century.

‘Glyptics’ is the catch-all term for these engraved gemstones, which fall into two main types: cameos and intaglios. In cameos, the design stands out in three-dimensional relief against a receding background. In these intaglios, the opposite is the case – the design is carved directly into the stone. Traditionally depicting an array of deities and figures of power, as well as numerous other subjects, glyptics have their origins in Ancient Greece and Rome, where they were powerful symbols of wealth and authority, treasured for their beauty and workmanship, and occasionally imbued with talismanic properties.

In the opening years of the 19th century, this historic art form found a series of new champions, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte and his first wife, Empress Joséphine. The classical aesthetic they ushered in upon their rise to power helped to reinforce Napoloeon’s claims to dynastic legitimacy by borrowing from ancient Roman images of imperial grandeur, and created a fashion for glyptics which lasted decades, bringing them to a wider audience than ever before.

This matching set of necklace and earrings depicts the god Apollo at its centre, among a host of female figures and goddesses in profile, each in a simple collet setting and linked by sleek snake-link chain. It was retailed by Hunt & Roskell, one of the most prominent English jewellers of the 19th century.

Hunt & Roskell was founded in 1819 by Paul Storr, who had worked as a silversmith for the renowned former Crown Jewellers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. Initially trading as Storr & Mortimer, the firm underwent many changes of name throughout its lifespan as various partners left and joined the firm, eventually becoming Hunt & Roskell between 1843 and 1897.

From their premises at 156 New Bond Street and their workshop in Clerkenwell, Hunt & Roskell provided jewellery, watches and silverware to an elite clientele, participating in the Great Exhibition of 1851, as well as exhibitions in New York (1853) and Paris (1867), eventually gaining a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria, who was herself an enthusiastic collector of glyptics.

With its bold colour scheme and sophisticated design, this necklace and earring set, in its original box, is both a rare survival of its era, and also a highly wearable and strikingly contemporary addition to anyone’s antique jewellery collection.