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Earrings

  • Place of origin:

    New York (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, with granulation and filigree

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patricia V. Goldstein

  • Museum number:

    M.115:1, 2-2007

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 21, shelf A, box 6 []

The granulated design on these earings was produced using particles of solder to secure the very small grains of gold. In the 19th century goldsmiths admired the skills of their ancient predecessors. They were especially fascinated to know how the Etruscan goldsmiths created patterns composed of wires and grains applied without any sign of solder. In 1884 the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann described granulation (the application of small, sometimes minute, gold grains) as an ‘art which now baffles the comprehension of the most skilful of the skilful’.

In antiquity, an organic glue and a substance containing copper was spread on the gold and the jewellery heated. At 850 degrees C the carbon from the burnt glue reacts with the substance containing copper to release pure copper. This copper lowers the melting point of the gold. It alloys with, and diffuses into, the gold thus bonding the sheet, wires and granules in place.

Place of Origin

New York (made)

Date

ca. 1870 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, with granulation and filigree

Dimensions

Diameter: 16 mm drops, Height: 27 mm

Descriptive line

Pair of gold earrings with granulation, United States, about 1870.

Materials

Gold

Techniques

Granulation (metal decorating); Filigree

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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