Late Victorian Silver & Gold Vermeil Niello Locket
Niello is the art of ornamenting metal surfaces that is thought to have originated with the Egyptians and spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. It is an enamel-like substance made of alloys of sulfur, copper, silver and lead and used as an inlay on engraved metal.
This fantastic locket from the Victorian era (ca1880) is a wonderful example of the Niello art form! The piece is made of silver and features a decorative pattern decorating both sides. The Niello motif includes a series of stripes and dots in the center, framed by a dark border with rose gold vermeil accents. On the opposite side is a similar design that excludes the rose gold vermeil, replacing it with a dotted zigzag border. When opened, the inside of the locket reveals a textured background that mirrors the striped surface motif. Two special photographs can be stored inside. The locket hangs from a rose gold bail the top, perfect for hanging from a favorite chain. This unusual Victorian piece is has a marvelous look and would make a unique addition to any Niello collection!
Measurements: The locket hangs a 1 5/8" long (including the bail) and has a 1 1/4" diameter, and measures 3/16" thick.
Condition: The overall condition of the locket is very good. There is some light fading to a few areas of the Niello pattern on the back of the piece, which is minor and does not detract from the beauty of the design. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the silver setting. The hinged locket opens easily and fastens securely shut, and the bail for hanging is secure. The interior of the locket has some color variation that can be attributed to a natural darkened patina, as well as what remains of what appears to be an original gilt finish.