Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Naples (province) (made)
    Avellino (worn)

  • Date:

    1830-1867 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold set with imitation garnets

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 76, shelf D, box 8

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. They used thin sheet gold to make impressive pieces of jewellery, and decorated them with glass stones made to look like real gems. The red pastes in this earring have been backed with metallic foil to improve their colour. Red and gold are the dominant colours in Italian traditional jewellery.

All Italian women wore gold earrings. Their shapes varied widely in different places. This earring comes from Avellino, in Campania, and is typical of those worn throughout southern Italy and Sicily. It carries gold marks for 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. At the top of the wire there is a small loop, through which the wearer threaded a ribbon, to help relieve the strain on the ear-lobe.

Physical description

Large girandole earring of openwork floral pattern set with glass pastes over red foil in high conical mounts, surrounded by hollow conical projections. The main conical mounts are riveted to the base. The main conical mount on the top section is surrounded by two superimposed discs of thin sheet gold cut away so that only a ring of curved trefoils remains. Hinged wire, with loop for support.

Place of Origin

Naples (province) (made)
Avellino (worn)


1830-1867 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold set with imitation garnets

Marks and inscriptions

woman's head between the characters 'N' and '6' in a rectangular frame
On front of each piece. Mark used for gold, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (southern Italy) 1832-1872.

illegible mark
On loop at top.


Length: 12.8 cm, Width: 9.9 cm, Depth: 2.8 cm

Descriptive line

Gold girandole earring set with imitation garnets, 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
Percival, MacIver, 'Chats on old jewellery and trinkets', T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1912, p.197, fig. 5


Gold; Paste (glass)


Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.