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Description of the pendant


Two elements make up this artefact: a pendant, and a watch-hook with sculpted hand wearing a ruby, from which the pendant dangles.

On art-historical grounds, the pendant dates from the period 1680-1730.

The watch-hook dates from about 1835 (a similar watch-hook is illustrated in M. Flower, Victorian Jewellery, 1967, p.96).

The pendant has three faces, each protected by a glass panel cut in facets and held in position by a serrated gold frame.

It measures only 2.7 cms from its base to the tip of the ring from which it hangs. Each face measures 1.7 x 1.3 cms.

The emblems behind the glass facets are crafted from enamelled gold and gold wire set on hair.

Face 1 shows a skeleton lying on a coffin inscribed I REST over the initials S S .

Face 2 shows the letters J S (or ?T S ) above a skull.

Face 3 shows a skull and cross bones over the initials S S .

The best advice I have received from an expert in mourning jewellery is that the pendant commemorates the death of three people, two of whom have the same initials: S S.

Compared with the story handed down in my family, that explanation is disappointingly prosaic, but it may turn out to be the truth.