Edward Burr (American, active 1838–68)
Yellow gold, pearls, diamonds, enamel
2000.549a: H. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); 2000.549b-c: Overall 1 1/2 x 1 1/16 x 5/8 in. (3.8 x 2.7 x 1.6 cm)
Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2000 (2000.549a-c)
By the mid-nineteenth century, Americans were experiencing an era of innovation in science and industry. Among the latter was the jewelry industry, which, like fashions in dress, looked to Europe for inspiration. A nostalgic romanticism infused contemporary styles in both England and America. Such mid-eighteenth-century motifs as flowers and scrolls began to reappear. This lovely half-set of brooch and earrings emulates French and English designs in the use of dark blue enamel set with diamonds and pearls. Enameling was still a little-practiced art in America, requiring the skills of a specialized craftsman. The process involved heating vitreous (glassy) enamels to bond them onto a metal surface, in this case gold. This jewelry is still housed in its original box, the lid of which is imprinted with the name and address of the jeweler: E. W. BURR / 573 B.WAY / NEW-YORK. City directories indicate that Edward Burr moved to 573 Broadway by 1858, helping us to establish a date for the set.