Kidney-shaped tortoiseshell & silver jewel box

Kidney-shaped tortoiseshell & silver jewel box

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Beautiful kidney-shaped trinket box made from tortoiseshell with applied bellflower mouldings in hallmarked sterling silver. The hinged lid has delicate silver inlay detail in a scrolling leaf and flower design and has a push button clasp. The tortoiseshell is in perfect condition and has a lovely lustre.

The technique used on these this silver jewel box is called piqué, where gold or silver is inlaid into another material, in this case silver on tortoiseshell. Despite being expensive, the use of tortoiseshell in the decorative arts was very popular in 18th and 19th century Europe. Not only did it have a beautiful mottled appearance and was durable, but it was also lightweight and could be easily fashioned into other shapes; jewellery boxes and tea caddies were prime examples.

Tortoiseshell is quite malleable when heated, so when very fine gold, or in this case silver, was fashioned into delicate designs and then pressed into the warmed tortoiseshell, the silver then cooled and the shell contracted to hold the silver in place.


Height 38 mm / 1 34"
Width 73 mm / 3"
Depth 50 mm / 2 "