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Shell Demi-Parure

Maker: unknown, Naples, Italy
Date: ca. 1866
Material: white seashells, cotton, glass beads
Provenance: Adelicia to her daughter Pauline Acklen Lockett to her niece Pauline Acklen Landis to her daughter Pauline Landis Grizzard to her daughter Linda Grizzard Tiffany by gift to Belmont Mansion Association.
1999.09.02 a-c by gift from Linda Grizzard Tiffany

The demi-parure consists of a necklace containing 197 approximately 5-7 millimeters Venetian small white shells that are woven together, separated by 2 millimeter glass beads in a net like design. The necklace closes with a brass box clasp. The 7.5 inch bracelet contains 48 approximately 7 millimeter Venetian small white shells woven in 3 rows of 3 separated by 2 millimeter glass beads. This bracelet closes with a brass box clasp, is 25 millimeters wide. The 55 millimeter long dangle earring consists of 14 approximately 7 millimeter Venetian small white shells woven together in a cluster pattern separated by 2 millimeter glass beads. This earring hangs from a 14 karat yellow gold kidney wire that is not original to the piece.

The Venetian-made shell demi-parure was purchased by Adelicia in Naples, Italy, when she went on her Grand Tour of Europe in 1866. Although this costume jewelry set would not have held much monetary value, it would have evoked the allure of a far-off place. To people in the land-locked Upper South, these delicate seashells would have boasted of travel to exotic, foreign beaches. The ability to travel, even within the United States, was uncommon in 1866. Adelicia’s trip to Europe was extravagant, making the presence and meaning of this souvenir significant.

The set came with Pauline Acklen Lockett’s calling card. A handwritten note by Pauline Lockett on the card reads: “With love from Aunte/ your grandmother’s jewelry from Naples, Italy.”

The address on the calling card is 1776 Massachusetts Avenue.


Sherry Male
Grace M. Allen

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