A superb Austro Hungarian emerald, pearl and garnet brooch pendant, circa 1870s.
length with drop 7.5 cms weight 33 grams.
In the 19th century this region was at forefront of industrialisation and trade. Because of this, Austria-Hungary had a rise of both urban middle and upper classes creating more spending power and thus, more jewellery. The empire was home to some of the world's most beautiful jewellery, as well as the costume jewellery legend Swarovski.
One of the fashions was 'Holbeinesque' jewellery which was very popular in Germany and the Catholic countries of France, Spain, Russia and Italy. Holbeinesque was a type of Renaissance revival jewellery that rose to prominence in the 1870s. Holbeinesque literally meant “in the manner of Hans Holbein” who was one of the most prolific German portrait painters in the 16th century. These were mainly large droplet gemstone pendants and necklaces that were modelled on the jewellery portrayed in these Renaissance portraits and based on Holbein’s jewellery illustrations. These pieces were highly-texturised, colourful and large. Another reason as to why Austro-Hungarian jewellery pieces were so large and bold was because of their two famous and fashionable cities Vienna and Budapest. Throughout Europe, costume balls, operas, ballets and theatrical events were incredibly popular amongst the ruling and upper classes, and of course, people had to wear jewellery that matched these events. Vienna and Budapest were known for their early Gothic architecture, thermal baths, and music with both cities having fashionable Baroque and classical styles. This meant that they were sought after destinations for the wealthy and elite, so they created these captivating jewels for people to wear them to the society events and also take them home as a keepsake.
Emeralds were mined in Austria around this period thus there were emeralds of all qualities easily available to jewellers. The emeralds in this piece are not of the highest quality, otherwise the brooch pendant would be far more valuable but they are beautiful and decorative.