Victorian Petite Silver Niello Checkerboard Double-Sided Locket
Niello is a blackened substance, which is comprised of metallic alloys (such as copper, silver, and lead) mixed with sulphur. Like enamel, it serves as a decorative overlay applied to etched metals, but it was primarily used in silver, and is characterized by its black color and oxidized appearance. It originated in ancient Egypt and Rome, and later spread throughout Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. During the Victorian era, it experienced a revival, and by the early 20th century, the majority of Niello work was produced in the Russian town of Tula (sometimes referred to as "Tula silver" or "Tula work"). Although Niello work has now been replaced by more modern techniques, it still is used in Thailand. However, the original antique Niello pieces have now become very collectible!
This charming double-sided locket from the Victorian era (ca1880) is a wonderful example of the Niello art form! A fine checkerboard Niello pattern covers both sides of the silver locket, which is petite in size and oval in shape. It opens to reveal two removable glass-covered frames inside, perfect for keeping special photographs. The locket hangs from a complimentary bail, which is patterned with the same Niello checkerboard motif. An unusual Victorian piece, it would look beautiful worn on a silver chain and is perfect for the Niello collector!
Measurements: The piece hangs 1 1/2" long, including the bail at the top. The oval locket itself measures 1 1/8" tall, 7/8" wide, and 1/4" thick.
Condition: Besides some normal surface wear, the overall condition of the locket is excellent. There is no apparent damage to the silver setting, and the bail is secure and intact. There is some light fading to the Niello pattern due to age, but it remains in very good antique condition. The hinged design opens easily and snaps securely shut. One of the original glass frames inside is cracked, but could be removed or replaced if desired.