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  • Place of origin:

    Naples (province) (made)
    Acerra (worn)

  • Date:

    1830-1867 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold covered with seed pearls

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 76, shelf D, box 13

Italian women have always loved lavish display. Even for the poorest, a rich show of jewellery was all important. Italian goldsmiths were expert at making a little material go a very long way. Many pieces seem too large to wear comfortably, but they are usually made of very thin gold, and are much lighter than they appear. Goldsmiths in the south of Italy made lavish use of seed pearls, which were abundant in the warm waters of the Mediterranean before the industrial age. They attached the seed pearls with thin gold wires. When these broke, as they frequently did, the pearls were lost.

All Italian women wore gold earrings. Their shapes varied widely in different places. This earring comes from Acerra in Campania, but earrings of this type were made and worn throughout southern Italy.

This earring has illegible gold marks which are probably those of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from the early 19th century. It was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.

Physical description

Earring with domed disc decorated with circles of pierced seed pearls surrounding a missing stone in a conical setting. Hinged wire. Flat pear-shaped filigree pendant hanging from a loop at the bottom of the disc, covered with seed pearls fastened by wires.

Place of Origin

Naples (province) (made)
Acerra (worn)


1830-1867 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold covered with seed pearls

Marks and inscriptions

illegible mark
On suspension ring of pendant, and on wire.


Length: 7.0 cm, Width: 3.4 cm, Depth: 1.5 cm

Descriptive line

Gold earring with pendant, covered with seed pearls, Naples (Italy), 1830-1867.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Italian Jewellery as worn by the Peasants of Italy', Arundel Society, London, 1868, Plate 10


Gold; Pearls


Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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