A Fabergé diamond-set gold and moonstone brooch, workmaster Alfred Thielemann, ST Petersburg, ca. 1899-1904. Centered with a fine cabochon moonstone bordered with a band of rose-diamonds in a silver mount, surmounted by a bowknot set with rose diamonds, the back finished with a fluted gold cover, the pin with a guard to protect the wearer’s clothing and fingers. Struck with workmaster’s initials, 56 standard (14K), and mark of the ST Petersburg assay office. Dimensions: 1 h x 7/8 w in. (2.7 x 2.2 cm).
Moonstone, a feldspathic semi-precious stone, became popular in the classical world for its pale shimmer; both the Romans and Greeks believed that the stone’s icy glow was caused by moonbeams captured in the stone. The stone enjoyed a revival of popularity around 1900 with Lalique, Fabergé, and other leading jewelers utilizing the stone’s subtle, elegant tones to decorate both vessels and jewelry. Fabergé’s designers selected different tones of moonstone, probably mined from the large deposits in Armenia and Poland, and contrasted their subtle glow with the bright white of the rose-cut diamond in silver mounts. For examples of similar designs, see From a Snowflake to an Iceberg: The McFerrin Collection (Houston: The McFerrin Foundation, 2013), p. 195 and G. von Habsburg, ed. Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and His World (London: Booth-Clibborn, 2000), pp. 250-251, 253, and 259. For jewelry and silverware using cabochon moonstones by Tiffany, René Lalique, Josef Hoffmann, Omar Ramsden, Ella Naper, Sybil Dunlop, Dorrie Nossiter, and others, see Elyse Zorn Karlin, ed., Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2015), passim.
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