Small Wonders: Early Gems and Jewels
Online Auction: 9–15 July 2021 • 1:00 PM BST • London

Small Wonders: Early Gems and Jewels 9–15 July 2021 • 1:00 PM BST • London

T he third and final edition of our innovative boutique auction of early jewels is led by the Arundel Zodiac, an exceptional 16th-century astrological intaglio within a virtuoso enameled pendant. The sale includes extraordinary early jewels from the ancient world, India and Western Europe. Other highlights include a rare engraved 16th-century sapphire which may have been owned by San Carlo Borromeo. There is a number of erotic glyptics, including a superb and rare intaglio with Thorvaldsen’s Shepherd Boy. Small Wonders: Early Gems and Jewels includes fine examples of early jewelry for every pocket with estimates ranging from £800 to £120,000.


This exceptional Renaissance jewel comes from both the Arundel and Marlborough collections. The Arundel Zodiac, is centered by a superb and rare 16th-century intaglio carved with Jupiter astride an eagle, flanked by Mars and Mercury, and Neptune underneath. The whole is encircled by a frieze with the signs of the Zodiac. The verso is enamelled en basse taille with a virtuoso depiction of a crane with multi-coloured plumage amongst exotic flowers and laurels.

Sale Highlights

Virtuoso Gem Engraving: The Intaglio

Throughout history the art of gem engraving has been admired by kings, princes and noble collectors. Glyptics as they are known have been treasured throughout the centuries. They were costly due to the risk of discovering flaws in hardstones thus forcing the engraver to adapt their design or start afresh. In the 18th century intaglios became extremely fashionable and signified collectors’ values and aspirations.

Virtuoso Gem Engraving: The Cameo

Cameo carving has been valued since ancient times with monarchs vying to have their portraits cut by the best engravers. The auction includes a superb cameo with Cleopatra which is an exemplar of Renaissance hardstone engraving. Further highlights includes a mesmerizing cat’s eye cameo carved with a Lions head from the Marlborough collection

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