This Victorian period conversion ring was probably made circa 1850-1860. These mosaics were a very fashionable and popular item to collect on the Grand Tour. This particular piece is an exceptionally fine example. Once a small pin, it was converted to a ring by adding a 14K gold shank copied from an authentic Victorian ring.
The Grand Tour was a rite of passage starting in the late 17th Century. It continued for about 300 years, tapering off into obscurity around the turn of the 20th Century. A typical "Grand Tourist" would be an educated and wealthy Englishman, German, Scandinavian, or American. The trip was a method of architectural, cultural and social study. The itinerary could vary, but usually a Tour started in France and ended in Italy. It was common to collect various art, jewelry, and souvenirs to commemorate the trip. These items were usually sent home for loved ones, kept as mementos, or formed the basis of new life-long collections for the men who took the trip.*
The term "micro mosaic" was coined by wealthy 20th-century collector Sir Arthur Gilbert in reference to Roman mosaics composed of little glass bricks called tessarae. These were sold as fine jewelry to Victorian ladies in the early and mid-19th century, when the tourism trade was at a peak in Rome.
Having a fine micromosaic Grand Tour piece is very fashionable even in today's antique jewelry world and it is a lasting testament to the fine work created by Italian artisans of the Victorian era, celebrating the glory that was once the Roman empire.
Our lovely example of the technique depicts a tiny bird standing atop a rock on a green patch of grass. Perhaps the original owner went on a birding expedition. What a fun and unique trinket to wear or give to a bird lover!
Size (can be resized): 7.5
Dimensions: 17mm x 14mm
Weight: 2.6 grams
Materials: Silver, 14K gold, mosaic tiles
Metal: Silver, 14K gold
Condition: Generally Very Good. The tesserae are very small and well worked, with little to no damage and no missing pieces. A few small chips to the outer border and a crack to the back tile.
*Some historical information for this listing is taken from Jean Sorabella's article for the Met Museum.