This exquisite French Victorian pendant/brooch features a fine onyx cameo depicting a fairy-winged woodland nymph, her translucent gown pulled aside to expose her breasts, dancing and tossing boughs of flowers. The cameo is surrounded by an ornate shield-shaped border of rose-cut diamonds and a single natural pearl set in silver over 18K gold. The diamonds are of very good quality with excellent brilliance and clarity. The bale can be detached for wear as a brooch, or the pinstem and clasp can be removed for wear as a pendant. There was once also a removable drop element—probably a pear-shaped pearl at the bottom. The jewel is stamped with French gold and silver marks and an illegible master goldsmith's mark.
Nymphs protected the natural environment in the specific areas where they lived such as rivers, woodlands, lakes, mountains and meadows. They often hung around with fun-loving full-fledged immortals such as Dionysos and Artemis. The beauty and allure of Greek nymphs was such that they could seduce Gods and mortals at will, often becoming mothers to great heroes such as Achilles. They were said to cause "nympholepsy" that incapacitated men with passionate frenzies, especially around noontime.
- Origin: France, ca. 1860.
- Condition: excellent; all original; pearl drop element lacking.
- Dimensions: 1-9/16" x 1-15/16" (2-9/16" with bail).
- Weight: 23.4 grams.
- Approximate Total Diamond Weight: 2.03 carats.