Antique Carved Essex Crystal Tiger, backed by Mother of Pearl in 9 Karat Gold Frame with Rope Wire Twist

    The making of reverse carved crystals is said to have begun in Europe, and the process has been attributed to a Belgian artist named Emile Marius Pradier. Some of Pradier’s early pieces were signed, which makes them particularly appealing. Such was the beginning of a treasured art form which evolved into incredible works of art in miniature. 

     Around 1860, Thomas Cooke began making crystals for Lambeth and Company in England. The crystals gained immediate favor, and as their popularity increased, Cooke trained a student to assist him. This student - Thomas Bean - later trained his own son and subsequently his grandson in the crystal making process. This process has almost always been a family enterprise and is one of the few art forms of modern times to develop in secrecy, the techniques being passed on from one generation to the next. Yet today, with very few artisans possessing either the knowledge or the ability to produce crystals, the process of reverse intaglio is considered to be one of the highest art forms.

     At one time, these crystals were wrongfully attributed to William Essex, an artist well known for his miniature enamel work. Although he had no connection to the reverse intaglio process, many people commonly refer to Essex crystals even today. The precise physical process of crafting these amazing pieces is a long and tedious one. Rock crystal is cut with diamond saws and then ground to the perfect cabochon. This procedure could take as many as twenty different grades of polish, and the entire process is done by hand. Once the stone is shaped, the design is drawn on the reverse side of the crystal with water color. The image is then etched into the piece of stone with a scribe pencil. The engraving begins with handmade soft steel tools. As many as 250 of these tools may be used to execute this process. The crystal is then carved with a paste made from a combination of oil and diamond dust. When the image has been completed to the artist’s satisfaction, he begins painting the crystal. Just as in the carving phase, the painting is done in reverse. Sometimes the brushes that are used have only a single hair. 

     These crystals are highly collectable and very sought after, so I was delighted to come across this fabulous tiger backed by mother of pearl in 9 karat gold (tested, not marked) with a rope wire twisted frame, which dates to about 1890. What a find! Over 2 cm in diameter and weighing 4.8 grams, this tiger pedant is ferocious. If you collect Essex crystals or love tigers, this pendant is the one for you!

***Chain is not included but may be available, please inquire.***

     I offer layaway on most items purchased for full retail price. In general my layaway terms are 1/3 down and 1/3 in 30 days and the last 1/3 in 60 days.  I am flexible so if you are interested please ask me and we can work out a payment plan that suits you.  Items ship when payment is complete and items purchased or payments made on layaway are eligible for store credit only.

     I always want you to be happy with every aspect of your purchase in my shop.  If you are not completely satisfied for any reason simply let me know and we'll work together to get the item returned for a full refund.  I guarantee that my pictures and descriptions are as accurate as possible.  My goal is to exceed your best expectations!

SKU: PT0512109V

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