Designed as a central oval-shaped Burmese ruby, weighing approximately 3.00 carats, within an openwork platinum surround suspended from a lozenge-shaped surmount, embellished to either side by a flexible line of...
Designed as a central oval-shaped Burmese ruby, weighing approximately 3.00 carats, within an openwork platinum surround suspended from a lozenge-shaped surmount, embellished to either side by a flexible line of circular-cut stones, suspending pear-shaped drops, set throughout with circular-cut diamonds within millegrain settings, circa 1910, maker's mark for Henri Picq. Dimensions: 5.75cm long x 1.3cm wide.
Accompanied by GCS report stating that the central ruby measuring approximately 11.3 x 7.4 x 3.2mm and weighing approximately 3.00 carats, is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heat treatment.
Note: Perhaps the most transformative element in jewellery manufacture at the turn of the 20th Century was the shift from gold-backed silver settings for stones to platinum ones. Whilst the metal had been used since ancient Egypt, it wasn't until new deposits were found in the 18th Century (this was in the Urals, having previously been predominantly in Colombia and only mined there seriously from the 16th Century. Deposits in South Africa and Alaska followed in the 20th Century), and developments in its extraction towards the end of the same century, along with ensuing advances in melting and alloying by French, German and Russian scientists and researchers, that platinum became a metal that was recognisable as a unique precious metal with viable benefits outside of an industrial context.
Along with the increased availability and desirability of platinum, the evolution in the tools at the beginning of the 20th Century - specifically small saws - used to work the metal also changed the way it was used within the jewellery world. Whilst Eugène Fontenay made waves at the 1850 International Fair by exhibiting a floral brooch with platinum settings and it appears in Cartier's ledgers as early as 1859 (for shirt buttons), it was with these piercing saws came the intricate openwork plaques that so dominated the first half of the 20th Century brooch. To compliment the "white" surfaces of metal (that didn't oxidise like silver) and their luminosity came the fashion for "millegraining". This was a decoration composed of regular indentations and pinching of the metal surfaces to create minute markings that played with the light to compliment the effect of the facets in the stones they surrounded and seemed to make the metal itself disappear. The Henri Picq workshop excelled at this technique and was responsible for Cartier's reputation of having the finest platinum in Paris. Picq's workshop not only pierced plaques with intricate designs in 'openwork' but also refined the settings around stones, including the aid of 'claws' to hold a stone in place rather than folding over and cutting down the metal, to minimise the visible metal and maximise the brilliance of stones that was so in tune with the advance of electricity and its influence on the way light played and exposed metal surfaces. These elements combined with swing-settings and increased articulation (note the flexible lines to either side of this motif) created a delicate fluidity in the movement of designs that particularly complemented the opulent 18th Century-inspired motifs of garlands, tassels and bows that Cartier still favoured in contrast to the evolving Art Nouveau style around them. This pendant has elements of another 18th Century stylistic influence, 'Néo-Grec', and through the lines of this and so-called 'Byzantine' inspirations we can trace the first geometric elements that will evolve into the Art Deco style associated with a decade later.
This pendant was designed to be detachable, which was another innovation (or more resurgence and evolution of the fashion for-) the transformative nature of jewels. This could have been suspended from a woven pearl necklace, trace-link platinum and spectacle-set diamond chain, or even perhaps suspended from a stomacher.