The heart was a favourite motif of Burne-Jones who had a preference for stained ivory over other stones. In a letter to a friend discussing gifts he had given his daughter he noted “of all the things I gave her to wear on her little fingers none looked so sweet as a poor cheap bit of ivory, stained so that it looked like a cherry, and it makes you laugh with delight at its funny red splash of colour, and it beats all except the sapphire that is crown of stones”.
This cufflinks design was created for the artist’s own use but reproduced commercially from the 1880s. The gold elements are stamped with the Child & Child trademark (C&C with a sunflower between) that can still be seen moulded in plaster above a first-floor window at the firm’s former shop at 35 Alfred Place (now Thurloe Street) close to South Kensington Tube station.
A similar pair is pictured in Charlotte Gere and Geoffrey Munn’s Pre-Raphaelite to Arts and Crafts Jewellery, while another sold for £3400 as part of the Shannon collection at Woolley & Wallis in December 2018.
Estimated at £1000-1500 at the auction on July 10, these did even better, selling at £4200.
Walter Child (1840-1930) and Harold Child (1848-1915), the sons of an East End pawnbroker who left a fortune of £30,000, opened as art jewellers in 1880 at 1 Seville Street, Belgravia. The firm’s distinctive stock of enamelled and gem-set jewellery attracted the patronage of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and the Tsarina of Russia and a number of artists.
Leading the Newbury sale at an unexpected £32,000 (estimate £2000-3000) was a mid-19th century red coral necklace of 21 graduated beads secured by a large oval cut golden topaz clasp.