A rare and mesmerizing late 18th c Georgian ouroboros brooch, rendered in reticulated circular form as a serpent coiling to bite its own tail. The surface is entirely pave-set with sparkling foiled quartz stones, which were likely sourced locally in England from the Bristol area quartz mines (i.e. Bristol 'diamonds'), with rubies as accents for the eyes. The style and workmanship of the setting, as well as the shape and cut of the stones, are all consistent with circa 1750 - 1800 Georgian brooches set with paste glass or chrysoberyl stones, particularly paste witches' heart brooches commonly dated to circa 1770-80s. Also typical for the period, the setting is silver-topped 9k rose gold.
Called Ouroboros by the Greek (which means 'tail devourer'), the motif of a snake consuming its own tail can be traced to ancient Egyptian religious iconography as a representation of both the beginning and the end of time. The ourobos found popularity in Europe beginning in the Renaissance period, when it was adopted by Alchemists and mystics, and again during the 18th century, when the form appeared in mourning jewelry. However, by the 19th century, the ouroboros (and by extension snakes and serpents) would become a well-known romantic symbol to represent love so eternal it supersedes the beginning and end of all things.
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Date: 1770 - 1800s, Georgian period
Materials: clear quartz (likely Bristol diamond), ruby, silver-topped 9k rose gold, paste (one replacement for quartz, and one replacement for a ruby eye)
Weight: 9.5 grams
Width: 30.8 mm
Length: 32.4 mm
Depth: 5 mm (not including pin), 9.7 mm (including pin)
Diameter of quartz stones: 6 mm (biggest), 5 mm (most of the ones on the body), 1 mm (smallest)
Diameter of ruby eyes: 2 mm
Condition: overall in good, wearable antique condition. The gold body is sturdy and without damage, and no stones are missing. Under 60x loupe magnification, all the stones appear to be without damage, with facet edges still sharp and pristine. The circular stone set immediately next to the serpent head tests as paste rather than quartz; it is most likely a replacement. The foiling behind three stones have tarnished, leading to a "clouded" appearance. The left ruby eye tests as paste; it is a replacement, though the replacement work is expertly done and not noticeable. There are light age-related surface scratches to the back of the brooch.
Please view the video and examine all pictures carefully, as they are part of the condition report. Please note that all antique objects, due to their age, can be well-worn, well-loved, and somewhat imperfect. It is my goal to catalogue these imperfections as carefully as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me prior to placing an order.
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Georgian Jewelry - Late 18th c Ouroboros Brooch Foiled Quartz Ruby Silver-topped 9k Rose Gold, Antique Jewelry Antique Snake Georgian Brooch
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