French paste is a vintage jewelry term used to describe the practice of using faceted cut glass, cut in the shape of a real gemstone, instead of using gems. This process, which was developed in the 1700's, created the look of a sparkling gemstone or diamond but cost much less than real stones.
This Maltese cross pendant from the Victorian (ca1880) era is a beautiful example of antique French Paste jewelry! The sterling silver pendant is particularly large in size, forming a Maltese cross with four spears that intersect at the center. French paste stones cover the entire surface of the pendant, lining the cross and spears, and forming a gorgeous raised cluster at the center. The majority of the stones are faced old Mine Cuts, excluding the larger center stone which is an old European cut. All of the stones rest within pinched belcher-style bezels, and have subtle color variation in gold and pinkish hues thanks to their closed foil back settings. A large silver bail is attached to one of the spears, allowing the cross to hang at the side from a favorite chain. An outstanding antique piece, this lovely pendant looks wonderful when worn and would make a marvelous addition to any Victorian collection!
Measurements: The pendant hangs 2 5/8" long (including the bail), measures 2 3/8" wide, and is 3/8" at the thickest point.
Condition: The overall condition of the pendant is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the sterling setting or bail, or to any of the paste stones, all of which are intact and securely set. The setting has a natural patina that provides a darkened appearance to the silver. This is normal for Victorian era jewelry and adds depth to the design; however it could be polished if desired.