Antique Heart Bloomed Gold-Filled Locket Necklace, Paste Crystals, Monogram.
This antique heart locket is a beautiful and classic example of sentimental jewelry produced in the late 19th century. Typically available for order either by catalog or at a jewelry store, this locket would have been first selected for the design, which features a diagonal slash of paste crystals set into the metal's surface, and then hand monogrammed with the initials of choice.
The paste crystals were at one time clear and sparkly, but as is common with pieces from this time, exposure to over a century of humidity and wear have caused the pastes to darken. As with almost all lockets from this time, there is room for two photographs inside, with the original inset photo frames and one of the two original clear celluloid photo protectors intact.
The monogram on the reverse side is hand engraved in a classic Victorian script, and while the first letter is decidedly an 'M', the second letter has characteristics of both an 'S' and a 'T'. Therefore we read the monogram as either 'MS' or 'MT'.
A note about the metal:
This locket is 'Gold-Filled'. This means the surfaces are gold, but the center of the metal is not. The minimum gold content is 1/20th the total weight of the piece. Gold-filled is made when two sheets of gold are physically bonded (usually pressed together by rollers) on either side of a sheet of 'fill' metal (usually a jewelers' brass). The resulting sandwich is then shaped into the object desired.
The surface of this locket has a matte effect, called 'blooming' or 'bloomed gold'. Bloomed gold is achieved by bathing or dipping a gold surface in an acid that strips away only the very top layer of the alloy, leaving behind a surface that on the microscopic level is stippled or pitted, but to the naked eye and to the touch has a very subtle matte effect. Bloomed gold has a lovely way of catching the light, almost a romantic and subdued reflection in its surface, in contrast to gold's more well-known shiny, mirror finish.
A note about Paste:
Pastes are considered the precursor to modern-day rhinestones. Depending on the period and location, 'paste' was made from different materials, but for the ones here and in much of the Victorian period, paste was a handmade crystal meant to offer the customer a less expensive version of diamonds. Paste qualities vary widey because each batch would have been a proprietary blend made by an individual jeweler or manufacturer using various proportions of lead in a glass matrix. The addition of lead adds a smoothness and an ability to refract light that glass alone cannot offer. The stones were hand cut according to the old diamond cuts of the time and hand polished and foiled on the underside to reflect light, and in their days of glory sparkled like diamonds.
The industrial and engineering advances of the late 19th century lead to new machinery being invented for the cutting of stones, allowing for less expensive, mass production of what we would now consider 'rhinestones'. While mass-produced rhinestones have aesthetic limitations, the beauty of pastes is that the best quality pastes could fool the eye of the beholder entirely because they are such good imitations of diamonds, and even today some still do.
MATERIALS: 10-12k bonded to an under metal, most likely jewelers' brass, crystal.
HALLMARKS: W&H co inside a heart
CHAIN DETAILS: Ships on a new 18" long necklace: 1mm cable link chain in 14K Gold-fill.*
CHARM DIMENSIONS: Locket High 1 1/4"((30mm) x 1 1/8" Wide (28mm). The top loop adds another 3mm to the height of the locket.
CONDITION: Very good. Closes well. No dents or major scrapes to the surface. Pastes have all darkened apart from one or two.
*Other chain lengths and styles are available upon request.