Oval gold locket with a sapphire cameo portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
The oval gold locket enameled with black and white pea-pod ornament at the sides is mounted on the lid with a sapphire cameo portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and with an onyx cameo bust of Cleopatra with the asp on the back. Inside there is an enameled miniature of Charles I (1600-1648) facing front with a melancholy expression, wearing sash of the Order head standing out against a celestial blue ground. Locket: early 17th century, Cameo: second half of the 16th century.
Each of the component parts of the locket has a political significance. The rarest and most important is the sapphire cameo portrait bust of Queen Elizabeth I, shown in profile, facing towards the right, her dress, hair and jewellery indicated. The royal portrait was (with the insignia of the Order of the Garter) the chief theme of English Renaissance gem engraving. Such images might be given by the monarch as a token of favor, a diplomatic present, or as a gesture of friendship. They carried immense prestige and were worn by the recipients as symbolic of their devotion and loyalty to the head of state, as well as a mark of their own high standing. The first in the series were commissioned by Henry VIII, then there were a few during the reign of Mary I, and the flowering came in the long reign of Queen Elizabeth. Diana Scarisbrick
Tags : Queen Elizabeth II, sapphire cameo