People often say "they don't make things like they used to," and when it comes to pique jewelry that old adage couldn't be more true! In fact, this once popular Victorian jewelry style can and will never be produced again, making each piece a highly coveted object d'art.
Originating in Italy in the 1600s and later perfected in France, pique is a decorative technique in which tiny pins of gold and silver are inlaid into another material -- usually hawksbill tortoiseshell or elephant ivory (both of which, sadly, are now endangered species).
This delicate, skilled art form peaked in popularity in the mid-1800s, which is when this gorgeous piece was created. Like the majority of pique pieces, this exquisite brooch is made of tortoiseshell.
A natural thermoplastic, tortoiseshell becomes malleable when heat is applied making it easy for artisans to work with. Gold and silver would be set into the softened tortoiseshell and then became permanently affixed once the tortoiseshell cooled and contracted around the metal.
This beautiful domed brooch features an intricate golden grid work center encased within a 9k gold ring. A whimsical garland of petite gold and silver flowers completes the piece and perfectly compliments the rigid, angular centerpiece.
If brooches aren't your thing, you could easily suspend this piece from your favorite chain and transform it into a pendant.
Materials: Tortoiseshell, 9k gold, sterling silver
Measurements: 1.5" x 1.5"
Condition: Very Good
All of the inlay is present. Nothing is missing. Tortoiseshell shows normal signs of wear for its age. There are three tiny spots in the grid work and on a couple of flowers where there looks to be a little wear to the gold. It is mostly noticeable under magnification and not to the naked eye. Clasp and hinge look to have been reattached at some point but are both secure and in working order.