A necklace composed of nine ‘Stuart crystal’ memorial slides comes for sale at Sworders, estimate £6000-7000.

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The rare piece, made in the Georgian era using late 17th and early 18th century elements, has a guide of £6000-7000.

Fashioned from faceted rock crystal (quartz), that preserved an underlying portrait or lock of hair in a closed back setting, Stuart crystals were the precursor to the memorial jewels which became fashionable in the Georgian and Victorian eras.

They were first popular in the wake of the execution of Charles I in 1649 (Royalist supporters showed their sympathy for the fallen Stuart monarch by wearing his likeness or initials woven in gold wire) but was soon adapted for a larger audience as memorial jewellery.

‘Slides’ such as these were strung on a ribbon around the neck as a pendant or threaded on ribbon around the wrist. Most contain fine panels of woven hair, enamel ‘memento mori’ imagery such as angels, skulls, flowers or doves and the initials and dates of family members.

Somerset story

The rare necklace at Sworders comes for sale from the Carew family, formerly of Crowcombe Court in Somerset.

The nine slides, united by two rows of belcher link chain, carry various motifs and initials.

The central pair with the gold thread initials EJ and MJ to woven hair grounds are set in split pearl frames with pink and black enamel details. The others include initials, typical motifs of putti, skulls and skeletons, with one decorated using a portrait miniature of a lady in late 17th century dress.

It is likely that they represent members of a single family.