These unique carved and engraved mother-of-pearl fish earrings are made with antique Chinese gaming counters that were imported into Britain during the 18th and early 19th century and they have a fascinating history behind them!
Chinese Mother-of-pearl gaming counters first came to Europe in around 1700 at a time when card games were an significant social activity. Labour intensive the counters were individually hand cut and engraved by Chinese workers in beautiful intricate designs using techniques that have never been equalled or even fully understood today.
Sold in sets the counters soon became madly popular in card playing Georgian England - although they were hugely expensive so only the wealthiest households could afford them. The earliest counters were fish shaped and they soon evolved into a myriad of different shapes and designs until the 1840s when demand for them dropped and production stopped.
These earrings are made from the fish shape counters which, help us date them to circa 1780. The counters are made from thin slices of mother-of-pearl that shines with a beautiful pink and green iridescence. They are engraved with wonderful detailing; scales, eyes and fin and tail lines and the fronts have engraved roundels with pairs of lovebirds. The earrings have lovely movement when worn with the pearl changing colour as they swing and the fittings are sterling silver.
The earrings are 2-1/2"/6.3cm in total length (the counters measure 1-3/4"/4.5cm long, 1/2"/1.5cm wide) and they are feather weight so very comfortable to wear. They are in excellent condition with no flaws.
A fascinating pair of unique earrings, steeped in history! Just imagine wearing something in your ears that someone played cards with nearly 300 years ago!
At Mercy Madge we offer antique and vintage jewellery that is special. Each piece is carefully hand selected by us, for you. We rarely come across two identical old treasures, once they are gone, they are truly gone!
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Materials: Mother of Pearl, Sterling Silver.