Whether mythical or mystical, emphasizing a person’s status or worn merely for ornamental purposes: jewellery has a long tradition in all of the world’s cultures. Since the beginning of mankind, people have adorned themselves with jewellery, whether in the form of necklaces, rings, pendants, belts or headgear, whose shapes are as multifaceted as the materials used. The collection of Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum comprises exhibits from five millennia – from the ancient world up to the present day.
The bronze bracelet symbolizes ancient hunting magic: the stylized heads of a wild cat were supposed to confer the animal’s strength upon the hunter wearing the bracelet.
Granulation, a technique of enhancing a precious metal surface with tiny spherules of usually the same material was used back in the 3rd millennium BC.
Ohrgehänge | 4. Jh. v. Chr. | Griechisch | Gold
In ancient Egypt, the scarab was regarded as a symbol of the resurrection and rebirth of the sun. Presumptively from Asia Minor, this ring was crafted by a Greek goldsmith.
As legend has it, Heracles – a son of Zeus, the father of the Greek gods, and therefore himself a demigod – already performed great feats as a little child. While still in his cradle, he is supposed to have killed the two serpents sent to him by Zeus’ wife Hera, who was jealous of Alcmene, Heracles’ mother. This heroic deed accomplished by the infant Heracles also found its artistic expression in jewellery, in the shape of what is called a Heracles knot, which was believed to have magical powers and is formed in this bracelet from the Hellenistic period by two elegantly intertwined serpents.
Schlüsselring | 2.-3. Jh. n. Chr. | Römisch | Bronze
Lunula-Anhänger an Kette | Um 600 | Syrien | Gold, Sardony, Smaragde, Saphir, Perlen
Shaped like a winged altar, this pendant features an enamelled figurine representing Mary, being crowned by angels, on top of two small compartments for relics that no longer exist.
Medaillon: Johannes der Täufer | Spätes 15. Jh. | Silber vergoldet, Email
Kreuzanhänger | Um 1560 | Süddeutschland | Gold, Diamanten, Email, Perlen
Its complex design focuses on the perfect harmony between the colours and the shapes of the ornamental scrolls and tendrils, which can be found in almost identical form in both the secular and ecclesiastical architecture of the time.
In the early Baroque period, jewellery continued to be characterized by a vibrant interplay of colours and gemstones.
Bildnisanhänger Philip von Bourbon | Um 1700 | Französisch | Silber, Miniatur auf Kupfer, Diamanten
Hunters’ jewellery became very popular in the 18th century. True-to-life depictions of game in its own natural environment were created in the form of enamel paintings, for example.
Brosche | Um 1750 | Deutsch oder
französisch | Silber, Gold, Topase, Diamanten, Email
Miniature ivory carvings rich in details, which can only be discerned with a magnifying glass, are nothing less than genuine works of art.
They were elaborately crafted according to the ajour (open-work) technique, with the remaining material’s thickness not exceeding a tenth or a hundredth of a millimetre in some cases. They were referred to as “mirabilia”, i.e. marvels of art, created by the human hand.
Maiandros, the Greek name of the Meander river in Asia Minor, became the synonym of endlessly winding ornamental bands that were particularly popular as a decorative motif in classical antiquity and in the Neoclassical period.
The trend in the Neoclassical period was to idealize mountain ranges into heroic landscapes.
Mourning jewellery incorporating human hair was widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries.
If we consider the small size of the image space available, we’ll appreciate the goldsmith’s mastery in terms of his skilful elaboration of only some few, expressive details.
Drachenanhänger | Entwurf 1582, Ausführung später | Antwerpen | Gold, Email, Perlen
Oval locket enamelled by Antoine Tard in the Japonizing style, depicting two cranes on the front. The reverse shows a floral motif and Japanese characters wishing a happy New Year, protected by a glass lid.
The bracelet consists of ten links, decorated on both sides in the style of illuminated medieval manuscripts. Medieval art and that of the Renaissance were important sources of inspiration for the brothers Alexis and Lucien Falize.
The bracelet displays the names of the customer's children on the front ...
... and their dates of birth on the back.
Anhänger | Firma Wilhelm Stöffler | Um 1885 | Pforzheim | Gold, Shakudo-Platte, Email
Anhänger | Firma Abrecht & Keppler (?) | Um 1893 | Pforzheim | Silber vergoldet, Email
A nude golden female figure reclining on a seashell is being menaced by an octopus. Representing the water, the plique-à-jour enamel is bordered by tendrils set with diamonds.
A crowned octopus, composed of two baroque pearls, is attacking a polychrome enamelled butterfly.
Female figurines radiating an erotic aura are a prevalent theme in the Art Nouveau period.
Crafted in the ornamental style – with a sophisticated three-dimensional structure – typical of Theodor Wende's work, the upper third of this escutcheon-shaped pendant features a facetted aquamarine.
Reinhold Reiling (1922-1983) was one of the trailblazers of modern art jewellery in Germany.
Jens-Rüdiger Lorenzen’s jewellery is characterized by its affinity with abstract small sculptures.
Armreif von Friedrich Becker | 1997 | Düsseldorf | Edelstahl, synthetische Korunde
Keen to experiment, jewellery artists in our day and age deliberately question commonly held notions of value and traditional craftsmanship. What’s more important to them is the artistic idea and its aesthetically apposite implementation.
Armreif von Peter Chang | 1998 | Glasgow | Acryl, Polyester
Brosche von Georg Dobler | 2008 | Pforzheim | Silber, Rauchquarz
Featuring serene views of nature, photographed and etched into zinc plaques, the pieces created by Bettina Speckner can be described as poetry transmuted into jewellery.
Ring "Fette Beute" von Andreas Zidek | 2009 | Gold
Halsschmuck von Ute Eitzenhöfer | 2013 | Verpackungskunststoff, Perlen, Silber geschwärzt
Taschenuhr mit Châtelaine | Uhrwerk von Just Vulliamy | Um 1760 | London | Gold, Perlen, Diamanten, Email
The beetle’s hinged wings were usually closed. To read the time, the wearer simply had to press together the beetle’s hind legs.
Taschenuhr | Frühes 19. Jh. | Pforzheim | Gehäuse Silber, emailliertes Zifferblatt
Fritz Falk: Jewellery 1840-1940. Highlights Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Stuttgart 2004
Fritz Falk: Serpentina. Snake Jewellery from around the world. Stuttgart 2011
Fritz Falk, Cornelie Holzach: Modern Jewellery 1960-1998. Catalogue of the Modern Collection in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Stuttgart 1999
Cornelie Holzach: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Museum Guide. Pforzheim 2015