Victorian Essex Crystal Pendant Lily of the Valley

The art form of crystal based reverse intaglio, or Essex Crystal work, began in Europe, possibly in Belgium. The difference between reverse carving and intaglio is that an intaglio piece is carved into the front rather than the back of the surface. It is said that Thomas Cook first introduced this tedious process to England during the 1860s. His finished crystals were initially sold by Hancock’s in London. So why weren’t they called “Cook crystals” or “Hancock crystals”? Well, it so happened that a very popular artist named William Essex, who specialized in enamel miniatures, was assumed to have produced them because of the fineness of the workmanship. Essex was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite portrait artists and so it was probably just assumed that such beautiful work must be his, and this mistaken attribution endures to this day.

This antique Victorian crystal pendant with a bouquet motif was handcrafted in 15 karat gold. It was made in 1858, in England, and features an oval cabochon cut Essex crystal set atop a beautiful image of a baby’s breath bouquet. The crystal is framed with pretty twisted wire details. The back is engraved with the date of “28th June 1858”. This piece weighs 7.0 grams and measures 32 x 20 x 10.8 mm.

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