An Elegant Silver & Guilloche Enamel Circular Locket Pendant with Portrait; Arthur Johnson Smith, Chester, 1909


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: 1909
Diameter: 1.25 inches

Of circular form, glazed to each side and bordered by a band of blue guilloché enamel decoration terminating in a teardrop loop, this Edwardian period pendant is intended to house mementos such as a photograph, portrait miniature as we see here, or a lock of hair.

The current incumbent, which is almost certainly mounted as the original miniature to the piece, depicts a lady subject, three quarter bust, decked in pearls and blouse holding a posy of flowers, the colours of which complementing the outer enamel border. The portrait is unassuming with the sitter looking down, perhaps in mourning, and though there is some suggestion of an art nouveau influence it is not overtly apparent. As we are unable to engage in eye contact with the subject, it makes for a more mysterious, thoughtful and modest depiction. The reverse of the locket is vacant.

The enamel and silver are both in decent order, with only a few nicks here and there consummate with age but we have been unable to currently open the locket for fear of damaging it pre-sale; this is not to say it cannot be opened, we are sure it can.

Guilloche is French for “engine-turning”, which is the mechanical cutting of lines on metal to create a design. The over-coating of the transparent enamel in these lines creates a brilliant reflective effect when the pendant is moved from side to side. One of the most famous jewellers to employ this technique was Carl Fabergé (1846 1920) who impressed critics with his enamel work when he represented Russia at the Paris World Fair in 1900.

Maker Arthur Johnson Smith was a manufacturing jeweller at Variety Works, Frederick Street in Birmingham and created fine silver and jewellery, particularly hat pins, many with an art nouveau theme.

A very pretty piece, both sensitive with the soft colours of the portrait and blazon with the blue enamel, making an appealing combination and an absorbing piece of antique jewellery.