Signet pendant

This pendant would have been used for private prayer. Its miniature size, only 2.2 centimetres high, and fine detail would also have made it an exciting display of the skill and ingenuity of the goldsmith.

The lower part of the pendant unfolds on hinges to reveal three seals with scenes from the Passion of Christ (the events associated with his trial and death).

Signet pendant

 

magnify image
Signet pendant

France, about 1620-50
Gold with enamel
V&A: 543-1868

Design for Jewellery

 

Religious scenes and motifs continued over long periods, but the date of this pendant is revealed by the distinctive shape of the suspension loop. Compare the curved enamelled ornament along the side of the loop with the arched strands of rounded peapod in this design.

The design is in a style known as ‘cosse de pois’ (pea pod), which was fashionable from about 1620 to 1650.

magnify image
Design for Jewellery

The Netherlands, 1638
Engraving published by Claes Jansz Visscher
After a design by Jacques Caillart first published in 1627
V&A: E.1414-1907

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

This ‘cosse de pois’ (pea pod) design is similar in detail to the loop on the pendant. Compare the trefoil shape of the pendant loop with central motif in the drawing.

The date of the drawing, 1626, gives an approximate date for the jewel.

Design for Jewellery

 

magnify image
Design for Jewellery

Paris, 1626
By Balthasar Lemercier
Engraving
V&A: E.2760-1910

Victoria & Albert Museum, London