Antique Victorian 1860s hairwork wreath pendant locket on bookchain

A stunning ca. 1860s hairwork locket with palette-worked hair in a flower and leaf wreath pattern against opaline glass. This Victorian piece may have been worked professionally or made at home. Many Victorian women knew the art of hairwork and were able to execute beautiful designs for loved ones at home and then have them finished/mounted by a jeweler (you can see catalog designs similar to this one in the second to last photo). This piece was originally a brooch, as we can see from the remnants of pin fasteners on the back. There is also a small hook at the bottom where a photograph, cross, or name plate may have been hung. The top bale may be a later addition, but the locket wears beautifully as a pendant and is thin and relatively lightweight.

The hairwork is marvelous, with leaves and flowers fashioned in hair and arranged in a pretty wreath against shimmering opaline glass. Painted flourishes accent the wreath. The design is set under glass with engraved details inside the rim and a "twisted" smooth/patterned frame around the entirety. A pretty flay-lay of the worked hair is displayed through the hidden locket glass on the verso. This gives us the unique opportunity to see a bit of the before/after of the palette work process, where first the hair is cleaned, trimmed, smoothed, and carefully arranged. We paired this piece with one of our favorite antique chains. Swivel and large spring ring clasp closure. A beautiful piece.

Measurements: Locket 1 3/4" x 1 1/2" oval, 17" fancy chain
Era: 1860s-1880s
Markings: N/A, locket tests for 10K, chain is gold plated

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