Our newest arrival is this wonderful piece of micromosaic jewellery, a brooch/pendant.
Micromosaics are a special form of mosaic that uses unusually small mosaic pieces of glass, or in later Italian pieces an enamel-like material, to make small images.
From the Renaissance they began to be made in Italy, reaching the height of their popularity in the mid 19th century, when Rome was the centre of production; they were popular purchases by visitors on the Grand Tour, easily portable, and often taken home to set into an object there (this example has a section at teh back to set a small lock of hair or keepsake.
The very smallest mosaic pieces come from works from the period between the late 18th century and the end of the 19th; we date this piece at around 1870. It depicts two birds of paradise, and has a captivating shimmering look on their plumage.
There are also three pendant attachments, with mosaics of a bunch of flowers.
A distinctive feature of micromosaics is that the pieces are usually oblong rather than square. The best work can achieve 3,000 to 5,000 pieces per square inch.
The detail in this piece, and the skill to create it, cannot be overstated. It is one of the finest pieces of jewellery we have had in a long time!!