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Black On Silver Niello Locket Pendant, C.1890

Black On Silver Niello Locket Pendant, C.1890

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Jewelry: Pre 1900: Item # 1431092
Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room
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P.O. Box 4684
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
tel. 410-435-3738

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A very modern looking Niello locket with a modern design on its face and back in black enamel and silver. This most unusual locket would look wonderful hanging from your silver chain. The locket has a Weiner Workstatte (English: Vienna Workshop) graphic style. It is likely this locket design was a Victorian predecessor to this most creative and short lived Austrian movement in the Fin de Siecle. As the Victorians were never to leave a surface unfinished, note the pleasing vertical stripes adorning the edges of the locket, and how the stripes compliment the wave like pattern on the locket. Note that the locket can be worn on both sides. This niello technique derives from the Latin form of niger, meaning black. The jewelry artist would start with a design a pattern on paper, usually floral or geometric. He would then engrave the pattern on silver, and by filling the recesses with a silver, copper, lead and sulphur alloy he would create a stencil resulting in a strikingly geometric and modern pattern. Niello has a very characteristic look, and once you have seen it, it is easy to recognize.