Stuart Crystal refers to a jewelry tradition that commenced in 1649, after the execution of King Charles I of the House of Stuart. Royalists (who opposed the execution of the king) discretely wore what has now become known as "Stuart Crystal"- a variety of rings, earrings, and brooches that commemorated the lost monarch. These rare pieces generally consist of cut rock crystal contained within a silver or foil-backed setting, and are characterized by the presence of woven hair (initially belonging to King Charles I himself), gold initials, or even miniature portraits, sometimes accompanied by words or phrases such as "in memoriam." The tradition of Stuart Crystal continued up through the late 17th century, eventually transitioning to alternative mourning styles around 1735. Some of the Stuart Crystal pieces are also classified as "love token jewelry," which immortalized the sentiments of lovers, rather than Memento Mori pieces in tribute to the king.
This rare and stunning pair earrings are a wonderful example of historic Stuart Crystal jewelry! The earrings date back to as early as the late Stuart (Interregnum) era (1649-1660) up through the early Georgian (1714-1735) era, making them as rich in history as they are in beauty. Possibly of the "love token" variety, each earring consists of a square-shaped rock crystal, which is beautifully faceted and contained within a foil-backed silver setting. The foil backing is enhanced with a luscious pink red color, which becomes visible on each side when turned in the light, making the crystals seem to glow colorfully from within. At the center is a hallmark of traditional Stuart Crystal jewelry - a set of very fine initials in gold calligraphy, surrounded by a delicate border. The crystal itself seals the backing and details in place, and is held within a pinched bezel setting. Completing the design is a 14kt gold earring wire at the top. The earrings hang just below the ear, and make a lovely statement whether worn day or night. Perfect for the historian or antique collector, these rare earrings are indeed a magnificent example of a bygone tradition!
Measurements: Each earring hangs 7/8" long, including the gold wires at the top. The crystals themselves measure approximately 5/8" across and are 1/4" thick.
Condition: The overall condition of the earrings is excellent, especially considering their age. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the silver setting or gold wires, which are securely attached. Both rock crystals are secure in their settings, however, under close examination, they do show some minor surface wear commensurate with age. The foil-back details remain preserved and in good condition and there is an natural patina on the surface of the silver setting, which is normal for antique jewelry. As with any piece of antique foil-backed jewelry, it is important to treat the earrings with great care, and avoid getting them wet in order to preserve the condition of the foil-backing, preventing it from discoloring over time or disturbing the initialed details below.