The two items I am discussing this week are both French. The first is a little coin purse, the second, a watch brooch. The little purse in the photos only measures 1.5 inches by 2 inches (3.96cms x 508cms) and was designed to be worn hanging from the waist attached by a gold belcher chain. It is made of tortoiseshell, dating from between 1850 to 1870. It has gold pique decoration on the front and back. The front also has a central shield shaped plaque with initials ‘EGB’.
The use of tortoiseshell for jewellery rather than for small decorative objects and accessories reached its popularity in the 1860s. Two types of inlay work were done, using a technique called ‘pricking’ which became ‘pique’. The first, pique point, was when small wires were pushed into tortoiseshell softened by heat, and then filed off flush to the surface, leaving dots, stars or similar small shapes. The second, pique posė, pressed strips of gold or silver metal arranged into floral or geometric patterns. This watch has pique posė work.
The inside of the purse is stamped BREVETÉ / S.G.D.C (Meaning: ‘Without any guarantee from the Government’ (Sans Garantie Du Government). This is a form of ‘patent pending’ notice in France.
The inside of the purse is beautiful. It is lined with blue silk moiré taffeta and has four separate coin compartments, the middle two of which have a clasp. Today, it can be worn as a pendant or hung from the waist.
The second piece of functional jewellery for today is an Art Deco watch pendant, also made in France. It is a very stylish piece, made of black onyx and silver. It has two chrysoprase stones, one set on the pin and the other fronting the watch. Chrysophase is a gorgeous apple green coloured stone and is from the chalcedony family of cryptocrystalline quartzes. It was a popular stone during the Art Deco period with jewellers like Cartier and Bulgari, although it has been used in jewellery since Greek and Roman times, and was a particular favourite stone of Frederick the Great of Prussia.
The watch face is on the back of the large chrysoprase cabochon and is marked ‘made in France.
So, two beautiful pieces of functional jewellery which still hold great appeal.