19th Century Amethyst and Pearl Cross

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Amethyst, pearl, and diamond bishop’s pendant cross.

Probably Russian, 19th century

Length: 7-1/2 inches

$45,000

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Tags: amethyst cross pearl

ALVR Blog: Fabergé and the Red Cross, an Enduring Symbol

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Our hearts go out to everyone during this difficult time, and we hope you are all staying safe and healthy. We look forward to welcoming you back into our gallery when this is all behind us. Until then, we intend to brighten your day with highlights from our collection on social media and the ALVR blog. 

main view, Enamel and diamond Red Cross brooch by Faberge

Recently, the US Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived in New York Harbor. The sight of this massive white ship emblazoned with red crosses is a powerful symbol of hope in this trying time and reminds us of other periods of history when this emblem held particular significance. One Fabergé piece in our collection tells the story of such a time: a Red Cross brooch made at the time of the Great War.

This brooch features a red guilloché enamel cross against a white ground. It was likely awarded to an aristocratic lady in appreciation for her contributions to the war effort. That the brooch is encircled with diamonds suggests it was made for someone of particular importance.

At the onset of WWI, Russia was in great need of nurses. This need was so great, that the year-long training period was condensed to two months. In patriotic fervor, women from all classes answered the call to become sestry miloserdiya, sisters of mercy, as nurses were called in Russia. These volunteers included the wives and daughters of government officials, teachers and other professionals, and aristocratic ladies.  At the helm were the Romanov women. 

The Russian Red Cross was established in 1867 by Emperor Alexander II. Initially called the Society for Care of the Sick and Wounded, in 1879, it was renamed the Russian Society of the Red Cross. At the time of the Great War, it was led by Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, who had been president of the Russian Red Cross since the beginning of her husband’s reign. When her son Nicholas ascended the throne, she refused to cede her presidency to Alexandra, but did eventually permit her to contribute in her own way. Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana, volunteered to become nurses. In their new role, they became known as Sister Romanova, numbers 1, 2, and 3. While the two younger daughters were too young to train, Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia offered their support as hospital visitors. 

In addition to caring for the wounded, Alexandra opened numerous supply depots that produced medical dressings and also collected and distributed non-perishable food, clothing, pharmaceutical supplies, and other items. Palaces and other buildings were converted for caring for the wounded. By the end of 1914, she was patron of 85 hospitals throughout Petrograd. 

Alexandra and her daughters traded their royal finery for nurse’s uniforms in an effort to bridge the gap between themselves and their subjects. At this time, Fabergé’s artistic output also reflected austerity efforts, producing simpler pieces, and eventually, offering his workshops for making munitions. Though simple in design, this Fabergé Red Cross brooch makes a strong statement, recalling a time when people came together to overcome difficult circumstances. 

In accordance with wartime austerity measures, the Red Cross eggs made for Dowager Empress Maria and Empress Alexandra are also simply designed. Maria’s egg, now in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, contains five portraits of Romanov women in Red Cross uniforms: Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Alexandra’s egg, now in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, contains portraits of Alexandra, Olga, and Tatiana in their nurses uniforms. The egg opens to reveal a triptych, with the central panel depicting the ‘Harrowing of Hell,’ flanked by Olga and Tatiana’s namesake saints.

The Red Cross has long been a reassuring image of protection and benevolence, a symbol of hope and care, today and yesterday. We thank all our healthcare heroes working on the frontlines of this pandemic.

Arts and Crafts Gold and Amethyst Cross Pendant

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Arts and Crafts double-sided gold, amethyst, and natural pearl cross pendant.

Edward Everett Oakes, American, ca. 1920.
Length: 2 3/4 inches

$17,250

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

back view, Arts and Crafts Gold and Amethyst Cross Pendant

Antique Diamond Cross Pendant

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Diamond cross pendant set in gold and platinum.

English, ca. 1900.
Length: 3-3/8 inches

$38,000

Antique Amethyst Chain and Cross

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Antique sixty-three inch long gold chain, set with eighty-seven faceted amethysts  suspending a fancy-cut amethyst cross.

American, ca. 1900.
Length of chain: 63 in.
Length of cross 3 1/2 in.

$32,000

Antique Gold and Old Mine Diamond Pendant Cross

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Late 18th century gold cross pendant suspended from a flower medallion and adorned with antique rose-cut diamonds and granulated surround.

Iberian, late 18th century
Length: 2 9/16 inches
(41 diamonds total)

$20,000

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

Alternate view, Antique Gold and Diamond Cross, c Back view, Antique Gold and Diamond Cross, back

Georgian Amethyst and Gold Cross Pendant

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Georgian amethyst cross pendant featuring 24 faceted amethysts set in two-color granulated gold mount.

English, early 19th century
Length: 4 1/8 inches (including bail)
(approx. 66 cts)

$11,000

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

Georgian Amethyst and Gold Cross PendantGeorgian Amethyst and Gold Cross Pendant

Mistress and Muse, Lady Hamilton and the Maltese Cross

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Antique Pink Topaz Maltese Cross

The Maltese cross originated as the symbol of the Knights of Malta, otherwise known as the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights of St. John. Because of its beautiful form, as time went on, it morphed into the popular jewel we know today. This was in great measure due to Lady Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Horatio Nelson, who received one in 1800 from the Russian Emperor Paul I.

She frequently wore the cross at balls and other events, and soon, Maltese crosses, worn as pendants and brooches, were in vogue, with the trend peaking in the 1830s and 1840s.  Though mainly set with diamonds, designs also used carved hardstones like agate and chalcedony. The form evolved over the years in accordance with current fashions, but never becoming unrecognizable. Our diamond Maltese cross is an example of the liberties taken with evolving nineteenth-century fashion.

Maltese Diamond Pendant

Lady Hamilton’s life was a succession of scandals. Her origins as a courtesan, coupled with her reputation as a woman “no man can resist” rendered her not highly regarded in English society. Quite beautiful, she was the muse of many artists. In fact, she is thought to be the most painted woman in all of British history. Mistress and muse, history acknowledges her with another term: trendsetter.

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Antique Russian Cross Pendant

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Gold and enamel cross pendant, the verso inscribed “Protect and Save” in Cyrillic.

Moscow, ca. 1900.
Length: 1 7/8 inches

$1,900

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

back view, Antique Gold and Enamel Cross Pendant

Antique Russian Gold and Jeweled Maltese Cross Brooch

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Antique gold, ruby, and diamond Maltese cross pin.

K. Hahn, Russian, ca. 1870.
Width: 1 3/8 inches

$17,800

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

1930s Platinum and Diamond Cross Ring

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Sapphire and diamond platinum ring, of cross design.

English, circa 1930.
Four sapphires approximately 3 carats, two baguette diamonds approximately 0.5 cts.

$12,500.

top view, 1930s Platinum and Diamond Cross Ring

A Pebble in the Rough – Scottish Jewelry in the Victorian Age

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Antique Scottish Stickpin

Queen Victoria was so enamored of the Scottish landscape that she and Prince Albert purchased a Scottish residence, Balmoral Castle, in 1852. The royal family soon adopted Highland dress in the form of tartans and jewelry. Such jewelry came from the land itself, often called “Scotch pebbles”, from the use of native hardstones.

Commonly used stones, often mounted in silver, included bloodstone, carnelian, polished agate and granite, citrine, garnet, pale amethyst, and jasper. Cairngorm, a smoky yellow quartz, from the Cairngorm Mountains, was the most favored stone. Victorian Scottish Sgian Dubh Brooch

Brooches were among the most popular forms of Scottish jewelry. The Scottish dirk, or dagger, was a recurring design motif, evidenced by our sgian dubh brooch, covered in a previous blog post. Other common designs included the Saint Andrew’s cross, butterflies, anchors, and love knots.

Circles were also common, like our agate, bloodstone, and citrine open ring, or penannular, stick pin (pictured above).  Our stickpin is an abstraction of the generic Scottish-ring brooch, which usually featured a pinhead in the form of a thistle. Such brooches are inspired from the penannular brooches with thistle-headed pins of the Viking period (793-1066) found in Ireland and Scotland, and were used to fasten garments.

In the Victorian age, Scottish jewelry was often worn with tartan costumes for ice skating. In our own age, they are suited for everyday wear, no matter your intended activity (or lack of plaid).

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