The case of the Three Graces

Three Graces Victorian PendantKrombholz has been buying and selling antique jewelry for four generations. The quality of what was made in the past has often captured our attention! Many of these antique pieces were made with such love and care, but sometimes it takes a closer look with magnification to appreciate these works of art. 

Every once in a while, something comes in that we identify as truly special. The pendant I will describe is one of those. This piece came in from an estate of a serious jewelry collector. Her collection was amassed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It is fair to say that we don’t see this level of antique jewelry often today.

I describe this pendant as mid-Victorian (1830’s to 1860’s). The craftsmanship in this truly hand fabricated piece places it in this era; before later, mass produced Victorian pieces of Second Industrial Revolution (1870- 1914). The center stone is a porcelain cameo depicting the Three Graces. While the cameo is unmarked, it is fair to assume it was made by Wedgewood who invented this style of porcelain cameos, often called Jasperware, in the 1770’s. Wedgewood didn’t start hallmarking their cameos until 1860’s, so that jives with my age estimate.

The Three Graces symbolize the mythological three charities, daughters of Zeus and have been identified on some engravings as, from left to right Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia. These three were said to represent youth/beauty (Thalia), mirth (Euphrosyne), and elegance (Aglaea). The Graces presided over banquets and gatherings, to delight the guests of the gods.

Side view of the Victorian pendantThe black and white lines next to the center cameo and the scalloped border details are hard vitreous enameling. This art form is created by carving a groove into the metal and melting glass powder at 750 to 850 degrees Celsius to fuse glass to the metal.

The pearl would all be natural pearls. The process of imbedding a nucleus into a mollusk to create a cultured pearl was developed by Mikimoto Kōkichi in 1916. So the pearls in this pin were created naturally by the secretion of a nacre by a mollusk over a natural irritant often a grain of sand.

Removable bail


All of the connecting pieces are intelligently designed so that they can be taken on and off. Also, since the enameling does not allow for traditional soldering this pendant was designed to be fitted together after the enameling was completed. This also relates to the thoughtful way the natural pearls are riveted to the outside of the frame.

Pendant back



Turning this pendant over, the back is fitted with a glass enclosure. When this pendant was made, this type of enclosure was often a space were human hair of a loved one was arranged and braided into a miniature work of art. This space could also be fitted with a photograph to create a type of locket.

I opened up the back of this pendant to find a well preserved piece of cardboard that seems to be part of an address that was fitted in this area when it was originally made. The mystery of this address is yet to be solved.Opened mystery

 This pendant is currently available on our website. Here is a link to this beautiful pendant!

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