Piqué jewellery is a style and type of jewellery all unto itself and is truly like no other that was made most popular during the Victorian era of the 1800’s, however it can be found as far back as the 18th Century.
Piqué (pronounced “pee-kay”) is gold or silver – or sometimes a combination of both, inlayed into another material.
Quite often the material was tortoiseshell (from the Hawksbill tortoise which was also used for the making of other tortoiseshell material such as boxes etc) and sometimes even from elephant ivory.
The tortoiseshell seemed to be the most popular, probably because of its light weight and being easy to “mould” into other shapes.
Tortoiseshell is a natural thermoplastic, meaning that it is quite malleable when heated/warmed. Very fine gold or silver would be fashioned into either fine “rods” or “leaf” designs and the pressed into the already warmed tortoiseshell.
After the gold and silver was set, the shell was left to cool down which would then contract to hold the metal in place.
Prior to 1870, the metals were cut by hand allowing for very fine and intricate detail then after 1870, machines started to do the work resulting in more straight and angular designs.
Piqué jewellery can most commonly be found in earrings and pendants, and the designs and colouring are amazing to admire.
This form of jewellery making is now a lost art as both the elephant and Hawksbill turtle are protected species, meaning that piqué jewellery will become harder and harder to find as the years go by and in this section you will be able to view some of the antique pique jewellery that we have to offer.
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Piqué comes from the shell of the turtle and is inlayed often with gold and silver in the most intricate designs and patterns as can be seen here in this fabulous antique piqué brooch.
Dating from the 1880's this piqué brooch measures 28.2mm in diameter and has a very attractive border of gold and silver and the most delightful floral design in the centre.
The wonderful chocolate brown colour of the shell really stands out so well and especially when inlayed with gold and silver in such an attractive design really makes this brooch so elegant.
Piqué brooches are always highly sought after and this Victorian era one will certainly be no exception and one that will always be admired and loved.