Historic 1880s Fontana jewellers, Paris 18ct gold set cameo with ceramic, platinum, enamel and garnets in fitted original leather box


A fine and wonderfully executed piece of quality French jewellery, c1880, in original Fontana Freres box with provenance.

1 in stock


An outstanding piece of quality French jewellery made by Fontana Freres 1880s, for their premises on Rue De La Paix, Paris. Fontana, established in 1840 became THE place for Parisian bourgeoisie to find their treasures. Exquisitely made, fine pieces by the best jewellers. In 1881 Joseph and his brother Giacomo split from the main firm to go their own way-hence “Fontana Freres”.

This remarkable piece comes with a great deal of provenance. It was gifted by Rowland Burdon-Muller (Harvard University / Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) to Rachel Severne (nee Fitzgerald) (a 1960s model called “The Swan” because of her long, elegant neck) on the occasion of her marriage to Michael Meysey Wigley Severne. He was owner of the Shakenhurst Estate, a remarkable English stately home with grounds, dating back to the Domesday Book. The house was sadly sold in recent years, along with the jewellery collection, of which this charming brooch was a part. It has a little handwritten calligraphic note, most likely written by Rachel herself “Rowlands Wedding present”.

This fine piece of jewellery comes in its original, fitted leather case, stamped on the silk with “Fontana Freres” details….fabulous! If you have ever wished to own a fine cameo, then this will not disappoint, as she is delicately carved and set in the most wonderful arrangement of materials. The carved cameo is set onto a matt black ceramic, which is set within an 18ct gold mount, edged with platinum-presumably so that it better contrasts the black ceramic.

A further outer frame of gold is enamelled with white enamel (one tiny patch is rubbed-top left) and there are four semi-circular mounts set with deep red stones, which I believe are garnets. The stones are all present and correct. She measures approx 2.5cm by 2.3cm. Quality not quantity!

There are lots of tiny stamps, an eagle’s head on the outer rim (French mark for 18ct gold) and a serial number on the pin “5616” plus another eagle’s head on the outer side of the pin. There is a further, indecipherable stamp on the inside of the pin. A beautiful piece of both French and English history.

I shall post together with her box by Tracked and Signed delivery. Sorry, I am not able to post to Germany at the moment.