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The body of this salamander consists of a large 'baroque' or irregular-shaped pearl. Baroque pearls presented the jeweller with an opportunity to demonstrate their skill at adapting an object formed by nature to the requirements of Renaissance fashion. White pearls set in mounts became the height of fashion in the later sixteenth century and irregular-shaped specimens were as highly prized as perfectly spherical examples.

The belief that the salamander, a small amphibious creature resembling a lizard, was impervious to fire and could extinguish flames was recorded by Aristotle and Pliny. It became an attribute of fire personified and as such was associated with the condition of the ardent lover. This jewel may well have been an expensive love token given to a man or a woman.

Details

  • Title: Pendant
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1550/1600
  • Location: Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 7.1 cm, Width: 6.3 cm, Depth: 1 cm, Weight: 0.0027 kg
  • Provenance: Salting Bequest
  • Medium: Enamelled gold, set with pearls and an emerald

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