We decided to meet on Wednesday afternoon in the Duke of Wellington, a pub on London’s famed Portobello Road. The pub is mostly empty when we go in to order pints and snacks, it’s a cool rainy afternoon and the road, which bustles with activity much of the week, feels empty today. I’m sipping a cider and listing to the men talk politics while waiting for a friend; we’ll head up to her closed shop to do a little browsing after we eat (private shopping, lucky me!). She walks in looking fantastic as usual, a classic English beauty, she rocks heels and trainers equally well. Today she’s rocking these earrings and I can’t take my eyes off of them from the moment she enters the pub.
“Don’t worry, Victoria”, she smiles, “they’re for you!”
These fabulous earrings will make any outfit from casual to black tie. Handcrafted in 18 karat gold, they are set with 36 creamy white pearls, each 2 mm in diameter and further set with 14 Old European cut diamonds. The center diamonds weigh about .1 carats each and the other 12 diamonds are rose cuts. The stars around the diamonds are accented with blue enamel. These gorgeous earrings are most certainly made from another piece of jewelry, but not by me. Likely they were buttons or maybe cufflinks, they make fabulous earrings. The pendants were made around the same time the Duke of Wellington opened, in the late 1850s. The earrings have post backs now and from the post to the bottom they measure 28.6 mm and are 17.3 mm across. Together these earrings weigh 3.4 grams. These beauties are unmarked, but have been acid tested to verify their metal content.
An art form handed down from the early Greeks and Romans, the cameo regained popularity in the fifteenth and sixteenth century revivals of Europe. Queen Victoria’s love of cameos combined with the burgeoning middle class of the Industrial revolution brought cameos of all kinds to Victorian England.
These wonderful cameo earrings feature classical profiles, one a man and one a woman, the two facing each other. It's most likely that these two are Zeus and Hera, the original 'power couple'. The beautifully detailed carvings are done in shell and set in 9 karat gold twisted wire frames. They would originally have had wires at the top but these have been replaced with post style tops. The earrings measure 27.1 x 17.8 x 9.1 mm and while unmarked they have been acid tested for gold purity. Together these earrings weigh 6.8 grams.
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