This pendant locket is worked with exquisite craftsmanship. The entire ground is covered with fine granulation, which is then set with turquoises and rubies. The larger turquoises have been selected for their uniformity of colour and lack of inclusions, and have then been individually carved to make the design more coherent.
There are three features which together define the group of related objects. They all have granulated gold grounds, they are all relatively roughly inset with small cabochon rubies and round turquoises, and almost all of them have either carved shaped turquoises, or crescent-shaped green glass elements, or both. Almost all the related items are today in Russia. In the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, are a shallow small bowl (Vladimir Loukonine and Anatoli Ivanov, L'Art Persan, Bournemouth, 1995, no.218, pp.212-3), and a dagger (Anatol Ivanov, V. G. Lukonin, and L. S. Smesova, Oriental Jewellery from the Collection of the Special Treasury (in Russian), Moscow, 1984, no.173). In the Kremlin in Moscow are four further items: a harness panel (Loukonine and Ivanov, op.cit, no.217, pp.212-3), a mounted horn (Loukonine and Ivanov, op.cit, no.219, pp./212-4), a dagger (Armoury Chamber of the Russian Tsars, St. Petersburg, 2002, no.50) and the trefoil ornaments on a shield (Armoury Chamber, op.cit, no.33). One other item that is part of this group was a spherical gold box in the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad, sold Habsburg Feldman, Geneva, 29 June 1988, lot 278.
The origin and date of the group is clarified by the provenance of the harness panel in the Kremlin. This was given to Tsar Mikhaïl Feodorovitch by the Safavid Shah Safi through the agency of his ambassador, Andi-bek in 1635. By the time it was recorded in the inventory of the Tsar, the donor had already died! Our pendant locket is thus one of the very few items of jewellery or jewelled works of art that can be confidently attributed to the royal Safavid workshops in Iran probably made during the reign of Shah Safi or his predecessor, Shah Abbas I.