An antique 18th century foiled imperial topaz and diamond Giardinetti brooch in silver, Portuguese, circa 1770. From the Georgian period, this brooch is designed as a bouquet of flowers, utilizing the orangey/pink of the Imperial topaz for the pistil, all stones closed-set in silver. The brooch is secured to reverse with a later-added hinged pin and clasp fitting in silver. The 55 diamonds are a mixture of rose-cut and table-cut examples along with a myriad of sparks. The four topaz gems are foiled and one is sadly chipped and another an old replacement in glass.
Both Portugal and Spain had colonies in South America. Brazil was a treasure trove of precious stones, yielding huge quantities of diamonds, topaz, aquamarine and chrysoberyl gems, which were made into jewellery back in Portugal. These gemstones were pieced together and pave-set to create suites of swagged and beribboned necklaces and earrings in floral and bow motifs. In 1735, the mines of Minas Gerais in Brazil yielded a seam of imperial topaz with a slight pinkish hue. The colorful floral and bow jewelry of Portugal made great use of this delightful gemstone. Imperial topaz was always a costly gemstone and it was not always easy to find enough gemstones of perfectly matched colors to go together in a jewel. That is why it is common for these antique Iberian jewels to be set with a foil behind it, which would enhance the gems’ appearance and help colour-match the stones to create the prettiest effect.
For similar late 1700s Georgian foil-back imperial topaz Portuguese jewels, see d'Orey, Leonor, "Five Centuries of Jewellery", permanent exhibition of the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Zwemmer Publishers Limited, 1995, pages 70, 72 and 73.
For similar late 1700s Georgian Portuguese jewels, see Dawnes, Ginny Redington and Collings, Olivia, "Georgian Jewellery", ACC Art Books, Suffolk, 2018, pages 108 and 110.
OBJECT: Giardinette brooch
CULTURE: Baroque / Georgian
DATE: 18th-century c. 1770 AD
MATERIAL: Silver, 55 natural diamonds and topaz
SIZE: 45.8mm x 35.6mm x 9.5mm
WEIGHT: 17.84 grams
PROVENANCE: Formerly in a private collection, London.
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