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Earring

  • Place of origin:

    Naples (province) (made)
    Procida (worn)

  • Date:

    1830-1867 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Caccavallo, Antonio (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold with strings of seed pearls

  • Museum number:

    235-1868

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 76, shelf D, box 15

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 Procida in Campania, but earrings of this type were made and worn throughout southern Italy.

This earring has gold marks of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from the early 19th century, and the maker’s mark AC, which is probably that of Antonio Caccavallo of Naples. It was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.

Physical description

Earring with domed front decorated with strings of pierced seed pearls surrounding a missing central stone in a conical setting. Hinged wire. Two-part pendant hanging from the bottom, consisting of a large pear-shaped yellow gold filigree drop hanging from a flat yellow gold spray of five leaves, with a single pearl at the bottom. Both parts of the pendant also decorated with strings of seed pearls attached by wire.

Place of Origin

Naples (province) (made)
Procida (worn)

Date

1830-1867 (made)

Artist/maker

Caccavallo, Antonio (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gold with strings of seed pearls

Marks and inscriptions

Woman's head between the characters 'N' and '6' in a rectangular frame
On the wire, and on the suspension loop of the pendant. Mark used for gold, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (southern Italy) 1832-1872.

'AC' in rectangular frame
On the wire. Mark of Antonio Caccavallo of Naples.

Dimensions

Length: 11.0 cm, Width: 2.0 cm, Depth: 2.0 cm

Descriptive line

Gold pendant earring covered with strings of seed pearls, probably made by Antonio Caccavallo, 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
Published in
Percival, MacIver, 'Chats on old jewellery and trinkets', T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1912, p.181, fig. 3

Materials

Gold; Pearls; Wire

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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