A Flock of Jeweled Birds
by Terry Betteridge on December 11th, 2015
They are swallows by the curving swoop of the wing and forked tails; the fighter pilots of the insect eaters. Here, in the iPhone photo from the day I bought them from Argentina, they move whether upside down or tumbling just as the real bird does in flight, but with the added benefit of the tiny spring fitted into a barrel on the pin, to let the diamonds do their stuff and to “tremble” with every step: Mounted “en tremblant”.
At the end of the Beaux Arts period, maybe 1895, these were made by a Parisian of the first order when it came to skills. The upside down bird shows the extraordinary piercing work known as “azuring”…. daylighting, where wonderful geometric patterns give a delicacy that allows cleaning but maintains the strength of the piece.
Done first by an engraver to mark the line, next by the saw piercer who shaped the cuts and finally by the “thrummer,” who threaded cotton cording charged with diamantine powders through the holes and stroked the string up and down the cavities until they were mirror polished- even where no one would ever see after the diamond surface was pavéd.
The flock together is never the same. They tremble and turn; are removed and re-grouped and always show a style and grace marking one of the great periods in truly, high jewelry making.