G&J 2008 294
The pendant represents a mermaid combing her hair and holding a mirror. A baroque pearl forms her torso and her head and arms are of white enamelled gold. Her tail is covered with deep-green and blue enamel and is set with foiled hobnail-cut Burmese rubies; three pendant pearls in a silver mount set with diamonds hang from it. The mermaid is suspended by two gold chains from an enamelled scrollwork element set with a ruby from which a pendant with a bearded moon-like face in mother-of-pearl hangs.
The jewel is a composite piece. The principal part was probably the ‘Pearl and Enamel Mermaid with 3 Pearl & Diamond drops’ listed in an 1841 inventory of Queen Victoria’s private jewels. However, it was probably assembled into its present form around 1860/70 and has remained unchanged since it was included in the 1872 Windsor Castle inventory of gems.
Mermaid pendants were very popular during the 19th century. Prince Albert gave one to Queen Victoria as a Christmas present in 1842
Text adapted from Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 2008