ART NOUVEAU BLACK OPAL AND GEM-SET BROOCH
Set with a round black opal within a circular-cut sapphire, demantoid garnet and spessartite garnet oval openwork plaque, mounted in platinum and gold, circa 1905, in a leather fitted case
Signed by Tiffany & Co.
Louis Comfort Tiffany chose gemstones not for their intrinsic value but for their coloristic qualities, a characteristic that is evident in all of his work. Because of their variegated appearance, opals were a favorite of tiffany's, who set his jewelry not only with traditional milky white varieties but also with black and bolder opals. In all of his opal jewelry, the stone takes precedent over the mounting, with a central stone surrunded by complementary gemstones much in the manner of the illustrated brooch in which the blue, green and yellow colorations in the black opal are reiterated in the sapphires, demantoid and spessartite garnet. Black opals with their mysterious mottled color tones reminded Tiffany of peacock feathers, a common subject in his oeuvre.
The underside of this brooch has been finished with the same attention to detail as the front, a mark of a good jeweler. A fan-shaped motif with spiral feathers enframes the underside of the black opal; Tiffany clearly intending the user to admire the brooch from both sides.