Coral has been used in jewellery since antiquity. Believed to be an amulet which could protect against the evil eye, it was often worn by children or used in rosaries. In the early 19th century, it began to be exploited in conventional jewellery and became highly fashionable. According to the 19th century French jeweller Henri Vever 'Every day, the coral merchant of H.R.H. Madame, Duchesse d'Angouleme, offers the most elaborate and elegant parures to customers and passers-by: the jewels which are sold there are created with exquisite taste'.
Many 19th century designers used historical styles. This piece looks back to the elaborate pendants of the Renaissance with their intricately sculpted gold. It has two matching brooches. The pendant and brooches were probably one of the last sets of jewellery to be sold by the Paris jeweller François-Désiré Froment-Meurice before his death in 1855. This pendant is similar to an item his widow showed at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1855.
It is carved with a figure of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine.