9cts Antique Diamond Bangle Bracelet 24k, Old Mine Cut Diamonds

Antique Chinese diamond bangle set in 24k, weighing 45.88g.

In terms of make, this is our finest Straits Chinese piece, possibly with 180 years of age. The bangle is set with 25 old mine cut diamonds at 8.5ctw to 9.5ctw, its biggest diamond about 1.5ct, and the next biggest 1ct.

A Little About Old Diamonds and Straits Chinese Jewellery
Old mine cut diamonds were first developed in the early 1800s and continued to be used well into the 1870s. By then, around 1875, the Old European Cut also developed, becoming the prevailing style from the 1890s to the 1930s.
Many if not most of Straits Chinese historical jewellery used Rose Cut or Old European cut diamonds, well, at least from the pieces that come into the marketplace that we can study from.
Rose cut diamonds, in their various stages refinement, came about earliest. In the middle of the 16th century, Belgian traders unveiled an innovative new cut that changed the European perception of diamonds. Based on a traditional Indian cut of the time, this new cut gave the appearance of a rosebud unfurling, and was christened the “rose” cut.
While we have seen many pieces of Straits Chinese jewellery set with rose cut diamonds, we have not seen memorable pieces using wholly old mine cut diamonds. In this region, our proximity to India has allowed rose cut diamonds to be used without interruption, in historical and modern Straits Chinese jewellery. Recent replicas have also relied on the supply of rose cut diamonds from Indonesia and Thailand.
From both the use and the quality of mine cut diamonds in this bangle, and further from the refined gold work of the 24k body to house the precise diamonds, we can make some conclusions as to the lineage and age of this bangle.
Seeing that this bangle is not 200 years old but close, we can understand the distinction in its carving and mythology.
The gold is never hollow anywhere (a thing for top notch craftsmanship and luxury) and the carvings are shallow but perfectly sufficient. It’s almost like sculptural work.
The snake is represented as if a dragon, with a full set of teeth and tongue/fang that figure more to the mythological dragon. The artistic inflection is reflective of Chinese values rather than just an uncanny resemblance. Both the profile and front of the ‘snake’ look increasingly like a dragon, the more one looks at the piece (and we include one photo for your pleasure).
The Chinese motifs at the bangle’s rear is another mark of cross cultural influence, together with the unmistaken Peranakan leaf motif. Yet taken as a whole the bangle is ‘simpler’ and more reserved than most historical Straits Chinese jewellery extravaganza.
This bangle is an Anglophile’s dream. It cannot be more Chinese and it cannot be less Georgian/Victorian. While the snake is a Western symbol of love and friendship, the dragon is one of power and luck in Chinese lore. How much the snake is feared and how much it is revered (and must be persuaded to evolve!) point to unfolding circumstance of influential lives in the 19th century.
This is a bangle meant for a petite wrist, at 6.5″ circumference. Its oval shape means it will wear nicely and not slip past the wrist bone (unlike round bangles).
Marguerite Duras would love this, and we imagine it is commissioned by someone who has seen a greater share of the world than most during his time, settling down to a planned, unplanned genteel life.
The power of jewellery is its story, from its making to its lore.

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