Unusual item reveals hidden messages

Unusual item reveals hidden messages

We never quite know what will come through the door next at Juels’ Ltd. Recently we bought a stunning bespoke custom-made half-Albert watch chain with, on first appearance, a very macabre fob.

The half-Albert chain itself was very unique, taking the form of a double femur leg bone. linked with equally spaced intermittent skull and crossbones, all set in an inconsistent mixture of 10ct and 12ct gold.

The fob was in the form of a skull and crossbones, with diamonds set in the eye sockets and a large oval cabochon cornelian stone at the neck.

Intrigued, I asked our trade connections in both Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and London’s Hatton Garden if they could shed some light on the very obscure item.

We know that the skull and crossbones has traditionally represented death since the middle ages, forming part of the ‘memento mori’ on grave headstones, or used by the military as a regimental emblem.

The symbol is also associated with danger, piracy and toxicity.

One of the first military regiments to use the symbol was Frederick the Great’s Hussars in 1741, also known as the “Totenkopfhusaren’. Many famous pirates adopted the skull and crossbones as a sign of their ferocity in battle. General Gebhard Leberecht Von Blucher (Furst Von Wahlstatt) used the symbol for one of his cavalry regiments during the Napoleonic wars and was present at Waterloo to strike fear into the French.

However, our watch chain was assessed to be a private commission with a masonic connection, symbolising the death of his former life and rebirth into the masonic community and initiation as an apprentice.

It also symbolises mortality, as no one person is immortal, and to reflect on being the best version of a human that you can be. It was thought that this item would have been astronomically expensive to commission in its day and that the mason in question would have been a highly influential individual with great standing in the masonic fraternity with grand rank or titles.

The skull itself has very high-quality graded diamonds set into its eye sockets. At 0.33ct each, both graded Colour F and Clarity VSI1, they have excellent cut and polish grade and symmetry in both diamonds. The oval Ceylon cabochon cornelian on the neck also has great symbolism, signifying protection for the wearer on their journey to the afterlife. The cornelian is approximately 5ct, again of very best quality.

The hidden message in the Albert chain and fob was that the femurs represented the journey of your life as you walked through it. The skull and crossbones represent that we are all mortal and will have to answer for our actions on the day of reckoning or judgment. The diamonds are there to shine a light and guide us on our journey. And the cornelian offers protection in both this life and the afterlife.

At Jules Limited we are always on the quest to find unique one-off items of jewellery and silverware, so if you are looking for a valuation for your items, please call our store.

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