A GOLD AND DIAMOND "TOISON D'OR" PENDANT NECKLACE, BY CARTIER
The suspended "golden fleece" of flexible gold oval links, with a sculpted gold head and legs, joined by a gold bail set with a circular-cut diamond, to a gold oval link chain of similar design, mounted in 18K gold (with an attachment and a screwdriver, pendant converts to be worn as a brooch), with French hallmarks, in a leather case--30 ins. long
Signed by Cartier, Paris, No. 019815, designed by Frédérique Dauphin-Meunier
In ancient Greece, the golden fleece was regarded as a symbol of treasure. In the myth, Helle and Phrixus fled from their conniving stepmother on a ram. After Prixus sacrificed the ram, its golden fleece was placed by King Aeetes in a consecrated grove guarded by a dragon until it was discovered by Jason, seeker of its radiant countenance. As an emblem of treasure, the representation of a dead ram suspended from a cord became a symbol for the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece, instituted in 1430 by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy.
Cartier created several versions, based on the image of the golden fleece. The Hon. Daisey Fellowes, daughter of the fourth Duke of Decazes, comissioned a panther brooch of sapphires and diamonds. Designed by Jeanne Touissant, the brooch replicated the drooping form of the ram entwined with a band of diamonds. Barbara Hutton, heiress of the Woolworth fortune, ordered a pair of tiger ear clips in the same form, ornamented with yellow diamonds and onyx. In 1977, Cartier introduced a pendant in the actual likeness of the golden fleece, an example of which is illustrated in Raffaele De Grada, Platinum Rhinoceros Sogni, segni e fantasie dei gioielli Cartier, an exhibition organized by Cartier, Milan, 1988 p. 69. On the illustrated version, chain links make up the body which hangs limp from a diamond-studded bail.