Victorian Sterling Silver Engraved Square Swallow Locket Necklace.
This 1880's era small sterling silver square locket features a popular motif of the Aesthetic Movement engraved by hand into the surface: a lilting swallow in flight amid branches. Swallows in jewelry and decorative items were associated with 'returning home' to a loved one from sea, as apparently the swallow is the first bird a sailor will see as a boat approaches land. This locket opens and apparently has never held a photograph as the original pressed paper that would have been set inside the locket by the jeweler is still present.
Sterling silver was overall a rare material in jewelry in the 19th century, when gold was overall the favored metal for jewels, representing wealth and status and tradition. However during the 1870's and 1880's, a shift in European and American material culture occurred, seen in both decorative arts, plastic arts, fashion etc. and more informal jewelry became popular for use during the day, relegating gold, diamonds etc to evening wear. Sterling silver swept in replacing gold in bracelets, fobs, chains, jabot/lace pins etc as use of silver in jewelry became en vogue in not only jewelry, but in personal accessories and effects including chain purses, handbags, chatelaines, mirrored compacts, vinaigrettes, etc. The motifs and themes of this period were inspired by Mother Nature, botany and biology, sports and pass-times and a newfound Western infatuation with Japanese art.
Lockets were also gaining in popularity with the growing availability of photographs, though ironically sterling lockets were still rare. Among the most special of lockets are the lockets which are engraved or set with stones in abstract or iconographic patterns popular in the 19th and early 20th century, including images of love, luck and sentimentality. While the language of Victorian symbols has changed, the jewelry which features them is ever lovely, ever captivating and ever collected here and now.
MATERIALS: Sterling silver.
CHAIN DETAILS: This locket pendant ships on an 20" long necklace, 1mm cable chain. (Other lengths and styles are available upon request.)
CHARM DIMENSIONS: 7/8" High (22mm) x 3/4" Wide (18mm) x 3/16" Deep (5mm). The bail adds another 4mm to the height of the locket.
CONDITION: GOOD condition, some surface wear visible, commensurate with age and material. The original dark brown pressed paper that was set into the locket is still present, though slightly discolored, along with the glass and frame as shown. Locket shuts tightly and is in good working order.