The Allure of Old Portraits

Channel 16 WNEPreports that a Lycoming County jeweler is looking for help to identify a man who is the subject of a painting. This image is no ordinary picture. The expert believes that it dates back the late 1800s when artisans painted in on a thin sheet of ivory that they then inserted into a gold frame brooch. There is a good chance that the image depicts a prominent member of society at the time.
Vintage jewelers routinely run across portraits when dealing with lockets, brooches, and necklaces. In fact, we have several of them. Usually, these paintings heighten the interest in a piece, and it is most often not possible to find the subject of the portrait because it is more stylized than realistic.
Case in point is this woman’s enamel picture in a yellow gold pin pendant frame. We date this piece to the 1840s or a couple of decades later. It features 14k yellow gold and measures 1 7/8 inches by 1 7/16 inches. The image could be religious or represent the enamel on porcelain likeness of a real person. Six natural pearls add beauty to the carefully adorned gold frame; they measure 1/2mm each. The eyes of the painting are nothing short of captivating.
Another great example is this vintage portrait painting in an 18k yellow gold frame hat hangs suspended from a 24-inch chain. We believe this is an Italian work of art and are reasonably confident that it does not depict a religious figure. From top to bottom, the pendant measures 1.85 inches. From side to side, it measures 1.53 inches. The artisan incorporated three full-cut diamonds with a combined weight of .03cts into the painting.

Some portraits take the form of a carved shell cameo. This piece comes from the 1930s and is an oval pendant depicting the profile of a woman. The jeweler framed it into a 14k yellow gold filigree setting. Look closely, and you notice the heart shapes along the edge. This pendant measures two inches by 1 5/8 inches. As you inspect the cameo portrait, you will see a little bit of wear; it was obviously well loved at one time.

We cannot say with certainty that any of the depicted women were real people. However, the fact that they do not present with clearly religious overtones does lead us to believe that these portraits were commissioned to depict the likenesses, perhaps in a flattering manner, of sweethearts, sisters, or mothers. Who knows, maybe you recognize one of them? 
At Peter Suchy Jewelers we are experts in all types of vintage, estate and antique jewelry. We hope you’ll stop by our showroom located at 1137 High Ridge Road in Stamford Connecticut.
Or, hop on over to our top-rated BigCommerce Store where you’ll find all the vintage portrait gemstone jewelry you see here. If you find a listing has ended, please email us at as we may still have the item in stock.
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