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Antique Carved Amethyst Necklace, Chinese

1900s Chinese antique necklace comprising 6 carved natural amethyst gemstones.

Cool to touch, the natural amethyst is translucent in two hues of deep purple and lilac, held by small filigree links.

The allure in this heirloom necklace is surely its colour palette, contrasting bold and light, most spectacular in the two bigger centre pieces.

The purple colour is not streaked and more gel-like, like the ocean under packed ice! For this reason, I’ve included photos of the necklace taken under dim and bright lighting conditions. For this type of amethyst (ie. parts opaque and translucent), the background (ie. clothing) will influence how the colour looks.

The main stone depicts a pair of peaches, luscious to touch and the thickest of all the amethyst stones. The oval stones measure 2cm and the round stones measure 1.5cm.

Its choker length of about 15.25″ is popular with necklaces from the turn of the last century. By the time it got to the Art Deco period, the chain necklaces got shorter to make room for drops or tassels. In fact the length of this necklace is one hint to its provenance. This and the type of filigree links point to Victorian makers.

The necklace is set in silver, hallmarked ‘sterling’, and we believe this is for a reason. The carvers were Chinese, while the setters were English. Silver would be easier to manipulate for the uneven circumference of the stones. The filigree links are expertly done, but the bezels holding the stones follow the contours of the stones and appear uneven.

Yet it is the combination of smooth and raw craftsmanship that makes this necklace an organic, particular piece. Over the years, we have come across a few similarly carved amethyst necklaces, some set in gold, but their colours are too dark (too even), or their shapes not sublime (all ovals or bulky). Many have been reset with gold and deviate from their original designs.

The stones in this necklace are ovals and circles, arranged east-west and north-south, for aesthetics as well as delicacy. Early craftsmen knew how to balance weight and shapes in designing how a necklace would sit AND look on the neck.

Note how this necklace is distinct for how well it draws out the Y-necklace. Worn at the collarbone when hair got shorter, it is part of the Oriental chic fashion from the early 1900s right through the Gatsby era.

Hand carved Chinese export jewelry is impressive when delicacy and craftsmanship come together as this. This piece is exotic whether you view it from a Victorian point of view, or as a historical piece in the passage of Chinese jewelry art.

Not just because it is in mint condition – this is a collector’s dream piece because it is late neoclassical jewelry that remains authentic to how it was designed.

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