A revivalist jewel by Louis Wièse

This is a splendid example of the revivalist work of Louis Wièse during the closing decade of the 19th century.

Wièse was clearly inspired by the design and filigree decoration of disc fibulae – disc brooches – popular throughout Northern Europe in the early Middle Ages.

Disc fibula, Frankish, 7th century AD; made of sheet gold decorated with gold filigree and gold granules and set with coloured stones and glass. The pliable gold on the disc face is backed by a bronze plate which extends slightly beyond the gold face | Image: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Bold and colourful examples of this jewel – mainly worn by men to fasten their clothing – have been found in Anglo Saxon, Merovingian and Frankish contexts.

Gold and glass paste disc fibula, Frankish, 7th century or later | Image: Metropolitan Museum, New York

We admire the effort the jeweller made to give this jewel an ancient appearance. This brooch is crafted in high carat gold to achieve an authentic colour, consistent with antique jewels, and its surface and border are deliberately mis-shapen and treated with mercury oxide to suggest the damage and the reddish patina imparted by a long burial in the ground.

As it was customary for jewellers working in revival of ancient styles, this brooch is clearly engraved with the signature of Wièse and stamped with the maker’s mark, to make sure the jewel was not mistaken for an imitation.

For a similar circular brooch by Louis Wièse see: The Belle Époque  of French Jewellery 1850-1910, London, 1990, p. 102

Written by


Further details: 
Gold and gem-set late 19th century brooch by Wièse c.1890, the brooch of circular form and centred on a large round cabochon cut emerald in a rub over style setting with serrated edge decorated with granulation and a rope twist border, surrounded by four cabochon cut rubies and fourteen natural cream pearls set alternatley in rub over settings and each interspersed with a double scroll rope twist motif, within a border featuring a row of granulation between wirework edges, the emeralds and rubies are open backed on the reverse which is fitted with a single brooch pin. 

Origin: France

Gemstones and other materials:
Setting: 18ct gold signed Wièse and with maker’s mark and French assay mark | Gemstones: 1 x cabochon emerald measuring approximately 20mm diameter and estimated to weigh approximately 30cts; 4 x cabochon rubies estimated to weigh a combined total of approximately 6.7cts; 4 x natural round cream pearls measuring 7-7.5mm diameter | Weight description: 61 grams | Dimensions: 5.7cm / 2.2 inches diameter


For further information on Louis Wièse’s revivalist jewel: