In the early 1780’s the Prince of Wales fell in love with a commoner, named Maria Fitzherbert. She was a twice-widowed catholic woman who was six years his senior. Their relationship was frowned upon by King George III and Acts of Parliament would forbid the two lovers to ever marry. Sadly Maria left the Prince and moved to Europe but on November 3, 1785 he sent her a marriage proposal and a miniature of his right eye to secretly wear in a locket. His letter worked, and in December of 1785 the two were illegally married. After they wed, the two discretely wore miniatures of each other’s eyes. The eyes were recognizable only by the two, making them quite intimate pieces.
A sentimental piece like this would have been an intimate keepsake for remembrance of a loved one. Though the bracelet itself is made of hairwork, it’s not necessarily a mourning piece. It’s possible that this is simply a token of love.
Five springy coils of beautifully woven hair are connectedly to clasp containing a miniature painting of a lover’s eye. The clasp and hinged shoulders of the clasp test as 14k on the front and 10k on the reverse. The back and the frame have the same gold alloy which indicates that it’s never been opened and reconstructed to insert another portrait. There’s no evidence of damage on the frame to indicate that the crystal was removed to insert a portrait. The frame is original to the bracelet indicating that the portrait inside is also original.
Measurements: 7 1/8” long, frame 3/4” north to south, miniature 9/16” x 7/16”
Condition notes: light crack down the center of the wafer
Period: Victorian c 1860 - 1870