Birds are common in antique jewellery. Doves are particular favourites. One image of doves that appears quite a lot is called ‘Doves of Pliny’. It is an image of four doves sitting on a water bowl. One is drinking water. You might see it in micromosaic jewellery as it is based on a Roman floor mosaic which was uncovered at Hadrien’s Villa in Tivoli in 1737. The reason why the image is associated with Pliny the Elder is that, in his Natural History book written around 77AD, he describes a similar Greek mosiac which had been found at Pergamon, now in Turkey. The image below shows the doves on a hardstone cameo.

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Cameo with Pliny’s Doves

Doves are also associated with a number of religions. In particular, in France in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was considered by Catholics as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Saint Esprit dove was represented in diamonds and paste, usually in flight with wings wide and hanging downwards as seen in the pendant below.

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Antique paste dove

Saint Esprit dove jewellery normally has flowers or ribbons as a garland, but other dove jewellery is plain and just shows the doves hanging upwards as in the photo below.

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Diamond set bird earrings

Swallows were also popular in sentimental jewellery, symbolising love, loyalty and joy. And owls, symbolising wisdom, were used in jewellery as seen in the brooch at the top of the post.

I must mention the Australian kookaburra. The Kookaburra is native to Australia and New Guinea. In Australia, it has two species, the Laughing Kookaburra and the Blue-winged Kookaburra. Leading up to and just after the time the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, jewellers began to produce patriotic and relatively inexpensive jewellery. Brooches with gold kookaburras set with seed pearls were common as were handpainted kooraburras on brooches, and then small gold kookaburra charms. The brooch below shows a Laughing Kookaburra as it only has a touch of blue on its wings.

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Antique Australian 9ct Kookaburra brooch (in Navette on Ruby Lane)