The average life expectancy of a woman born in 1800 in England was about 35 years. By comparison, dear Mary Ann Gillett’s life of 67 years must have seemed quite long and luxurious. Her life was celebrated with the construction of this amazing locket which contains a lock of her hair clasped with seed pearls and gold wire, opposite her hair is an elaborately engraved plaque with her name and the date of her death.
This stunning locket is in amazing condition, likely due to living most of its life in its original fitted box. The front is set with ten pearls and a banded agate and decorated in rich black and white enamel, it reads ‘In Memory Of’. The back of the locket is equally beautiful and showcases a spray of ivy leaves (sorry, we could have cleaned it better!). This locket measures 54 mm north to south and 31.8 mm across, it’s 10.9 mm thick and weighs 24.4 grams; it has no hallmarks, but careful acid testing reveals it to be made of 18 karat gold. This beautiful piece was hand crafted in England in about 1874. The interior inscription reads: ‘Mary Ann Gillett, died 20th Aug..st 1874, Aged 67’. The locket is presented in it’s original fitted box lined in blue velvet, together the locket and box weigh 50.6 grams.
The presence of white enamel on memorial pieces sometimes symbols that the person was unmarried, perhaps the reason Mary Ann lived to such a ripe old age was that she didn’t have to go through the perils of childbirth?
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