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Exploring the timeless elegance of neoclassical earrings: A journey through history

Exploring the timeless elegance of neoclassical earrings: A journey through history
Earrings in 19.2k gold. Porto hallmarks, Portugal, 19th century. © Leiloeira Corte Real

In the ever-evolving world of goldsmithing and jewellery, there are certain styles that stand the test of time, captivating generations with their timeless elegance and elaborate designs. Neoclassical earrings, with their rich history and exquisite craftsmanship, are an excellent example of this enduring allure.

Throughout the 19th century, there was a notable trend in jewellery design towards the simplification of erudite models into more accessible and popular forms. One of these developments was the transformation of the three-piece earring typology, which included the much celebrated "à rainha" earrings, into the stylised "à rei" earrings by which they are known in Portuguese jewellery.

Gold filigree earrings. Mark of the goldsmith João Marques da Silva (?). Porto, Portugal, ca. 1863. © House of Filigree
Earrings "à Rainha" in 19.2k gold filigree. © House of Filigree

Originally adorned with diamonds in the high jewellery versions, these earrings gradually saw simpler versions emerge, with simulated gems in gold sheet and decorative motifs worked in delicate filigree. This change in design not only made these earrings more accessible, but also allowed for a broader interpretation of their beauty and elegance.

Silver earrings set with "Minas-Novas" (beryls). Portugal, 18th/19th century. © Cabral Moncada Leilões
Gold earrings set with diamonds, in an openwork design with filigree-like scrolls. Portugal, 19th century (1st half). © Veritas Art Auctioneers

A notable example of this evolution is found in the Portuguese earrings known as "Minas Novas" earrings, which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. These exquisite pieces, set with beryls or other colourless gems that were commercially referred to as such, show the fusion of classical inspiration with local know-how, resulting in a unique and captivating aesthetic.

The influence of these historic pieces can be seen in the interpretations incorporating filigree elements, simulated gemstones and stylised motifs to create modern pieces that pay homage to tradition while embracing innovation.

Silver earrings set with "Minas-Novas" (beryls). Portugal, 18th/19th century. © Cabral Moncada Leilões

Neoclassical earrings continue to captivate jewellery enthusiasts, especially collectors, transcending time and trends with their intrinsic beauty and timeless charm. Whether worn as a standout piece or as a subtle touch, these earrings evince a sense of sophistication and grace that spans generations.

As we reflect on the rich history and enduring charm of neoclassical earrings, we are reminded of the timeless allure of classical beauty and the eternal legacy of our cultural heritage. With every delicate curve and fine detail, these earrings tell a story of tradition, innovation and the timeless pursuit of elegance.

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