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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)
    Pozzuoli (worn)

  • Date:

    1800-1867 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold set with foiled pink sapphires and green wax, covered with strings of seed pearls

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 76, shelf D, box 9

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. The red stones in this earring are pink sapphires, backed with red foil to make them look like rubies. Goldsmiths in the south of Italy also 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 Pozzuoli in Campania, but earrings of this type were made and worn throughout southern Italy. 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

Girandole earring decorated all over with strings of seed pearls surrounding high conical mounts set with pink sapphires over red foil, and small pastes of green wax, imitating emeralds. Hinged wire at back, with loop at top.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)
Pozzuoli (worn)


1800-1867 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold set with foiled pink sapphires and green wax, covered with strings of seed pearls

Marks and inscriptions

'...P' in oval frame.
On wire, and on the front of each pendant at the lowest point. Mark of unidentified maker.


Length: 8.6 cm, Width: 6.4 cm, Depth: 2.4 cm

Descriptive line

Gold girandole earring set with sapphires and green wax, and covered with seed pearls, Italy, 1800-1867.

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

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


Gold; Sapphire; Wax; Pearls


Stone setting


Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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