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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Portrait medallion

A medallion decorated with a portrait, usually an enamelled miniature but often in the form of a cameo, sometimes mounted in a frame with gemstones. A notable example is a gold medallion bearing a low-relief profile portrait carved in chalcedony, depicting a nobleman (traditionally thought to be Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, but now considered probably to be Robert de Masmines, wearing his collar as a knight of the Golden Fleece); the hat (red) and costume (green) are in gold repoussé covered with translucent enamel.

During the 16th century silver portrait medallions were cast from medals. Enamelled portrait medallions were a popular form of personal adronment, worn suspended on a chain or a ribbon by ladies and gentlemen, during the late years of Elizabeth I and the reign of James I, and were also used as presentation pieces.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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