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Antiquegold guard chain with snake slide. An 18 carat yellow gold cable chain with snake form slide, the snake’s head set with one cushion shape old cutsapphire with an approximate weight of 0.50 carats, and two round old cut ruby eyes with an approximate total weight of 0.04 carats, the body with three coils and engraved with scales, all on a circular spring clasp, and approximately 50 inches in length, approximate weight 35.1g. Marked 18 carat yellow gold, French, circa 1895.
Chains have been used in jewellery since ancient times. Early chains were created from thin strips of metal which would have been hammered or rolled between plates of stone to make them round in appearance. This wire would then be stretched to reduce its thickness allowing very fine thin wires to be fashioned.
Often beads of precious materials would be incorporated into the design adding a splash of colour to the rich gold links. Clasps could be a simple hook or fashioned into a decorative motif which becomes the focal point of the chain and not merely just a way of fastening it.
The chain has remained an integral part of jewellery thought the ages, from simple styles used only to hold a treasured pendant to highly decorative chains used as a sign of status and wealth. For instance long loops of chain were popular in the sixteenth century and were used to decorate from the neck to the waist. The links of these chains could be very elaborate in appearance with floral designs and patterned settings often enamelled to add colour.
The chains from the Georgian period are highly distinctive, each link decorated with a pattern which would be engraved, embossed or stamped into the metal. Clasps are extremely ornate with gem-set barrel clasps and hands fashioned from gold with tiny gem-set rings and cuffs.
Albert chains became popular during the Victorian period. Owned by every well dressed gentleman, they are attached to a pocket watch and would be worn across the front of a waistcoat with the watch tucked into the pocket.
Long guard chains have remained a popular choice through to retro designs of the 1960s with designers creating signature styles which are still sought after today.
The chain has endured though the centuries and we are lucky to have a wonderful range from ancient to retro to perhaps tempt you?