Tiffany & Company (American, 1837present)
Gold, pearls, black enamel, hair; Overall Diam. 1 9/16 in. (4 cm)
Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2000 (2000.556)
This meticulously fashioned brooch is an example of nineteenth-century mourning jewelry (see also 2000.557) manufactured by the fashionable New York firm of Tiffany & Company. Plaited hair is enclosed under highly polished crystal set in gold and mounted with white pearls alternating with black enameled epaulettes. The overall effect is one of boldness and elegance. The lovely auburn hair belonged to Cornelia Ray Hamilton, who died in 1867 at the age of thirty-seven. Her life dates are engraved on the underside of the brooch: "Cornelia Ray Hamilton. / BORN DEC. 26th 1829. DIED DEC 1st 1867." Gilt lettering inside the cover of the original maroon leather case reads "TIFFANY & CO 550 . Broadway . NEW . YORK," and additional history is provided by a paper label adhered to the underside of the box: "Gold & pearl breastpin / with C. Hamilton's hair / given to me by Mother / January 1868."