The Christian Bauwens Fund has acquired a half set of Second Empire-style jewellery, created by the silversmith Arthur Dufour (1842-1880). The broach and matching drop earrings are decorated with natural pearls and diamonds set in silver and sapphires set in yellow gold. The jewellery case indicates that the set was made between 1869 and 1877.
Arthur Dufour was part of a Brussels group of silversmiths, originally from Mechelen, who, encouraged by the Court and inspired by Paris, raised Belgian jewellery to international status during the second half of the 19th century. During this period, it was fashionable to use floral motifs and especially diamonds, which had recently been discovered in South Africa, either alone or with other precious stones of various colours. With its classically-inspired design, characterised by its symmetry and decorative bows and flowers in precious stones and natural pearls, the jewellery is typical of the royal courts’ jewellery tradition.
The set has been entrusted to the Silver Museum of the Province of Antwerp as part of the creation of a new museum of silverwork, jewellery and diamonds in the heart of Antwerp. It will fill a gap in the presentation of Belgian jewellery. The opening of the new museum is planned for the end of 2016, but in the meantime the jewels can be seen in the MAS Diamond Pavilion from 3 April 2015.