Piqué is the name for tortoiseshell inlaid with silver and gold. This decorative technique was used for small luxury items such as snuff boxes and jewellery.

The tortoiseshell usually came from the hawksbill (caret) turtle. It was softened in boiling salted water before being moulded in heated dies . Two main decorative effects were used. In piqué posé, the pattern was engraved into the surface and filled with flakes or threads of precious metal. In piqué point, gold pins were inserted to form the design. All the objects in this case are formed by piqué posé.

Piqué was traditionally a French and Italian speciality . By the 1760s it had spread to England, where it was mass produced by Birmingham manufacturers from the 1870s.


  • Title: Pendant
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1865/1879
  • Location: France
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 7 cm, Width: 4.1 cm, Depth: 0.9 cm
  • Provenance: Griffin Bequest
  • Medium: Piqué, tortoiseshell inlaid with gold and silver

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