Rock crystal pin with chihuahua (Essex crystal)
Round 18K gold pin portraying a chihuahua, surrounded by a pearl edge. Signed L8. Sussex, ca. 1870. Gross weight: ca. 9.2 grams. Length: 8 cm. Diameter: 22 mm. Beautiful quality “Essex crystal”.
Essex crystal is the name for these pieces of jewellery jewellery made of rock crystal. The rock crystal is first cut into a cabochon (flat back + rounded dome shaped top), then a detailed design is carved into the flat back. The carved-out design is painted and this painting seems to float, in three dimensions inside the crystal, when viewed from the front. This technique is called a “reverse carving.” Supposedly this art form began in Europe, possibly in Belgium. It is said that Thomas Cook first introduced the process to England during the 1860s and the finished crystals were initially sold by Hancocks in London. The name Essex crystal refers to a wrongful attribution of these masterful pieces to the then popular miniature painter William Essex, who specialized in enamel miniatures, a favorite of Queen Victoria. But this jewellery has no relationship with Essex in England or the painter William Essex.