Kirsten's Corner

18K Gold and Bronze Rare James Tassie Venus and Mars Medallion


Attributed to the James Tassie workshop, circa the late 18th century, this rare medallion was most likely used as the master mold for creating the glass gemstones that James Tassie was known for. The glass mimicked carnelian and other precious stones, which were famously used as intaglios in Georgian jewelry. Because this bronze mold is so special and rare, we added an 18k gold bezel so that the piece could be worn today as a beautiful pendant. Bronze, a hard metal, allows for intricate definition, and due to its age, the medallion has acquired a gorgeous multi-colored patina that emphasizes the high points, shape, and line work of the bas relief. The added bezel accentuates the thickness of the ingot, as the gold border picks up the depth of the patina, pulling the eye into this seductive medallion. 

The medallion depicts Venus and Mars, standing in an embrace. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, is loosely draped in a cloth, while her lover Mars, the god of war, stands before her, creating an elegant composition on the oval medallion. Created as part of our signature collection, this is a one of a kind piece of jewelry. 

Born in 1735, James Tassie was a Scottish stonemason who invented a glassy white paste perfect for replicating gemstones. Tassie was commissioned across Europe, first by Catherine the Great of Russia, then by the Wedgwood factory, to create imitation gemstones and elaborately carved intaglios. In 1773, most of the infamous blue and white cameos in the Wedgwood catalogue were cast from molds made by Tassie. The artist left behind a collection of over 15,800 intricate pieces of artwork. Many of Tassie’s intaglios were cast in glass-paste or plaster, which could eventually break. However, some were cast into bronze—which have survived for centuries. These pieces are rare treasures that capture Tassie’s incredible skill. 

The medallion weighs 11.5 grams. It measures approximately 1” x 3/4” with a 7.7mm round bail. The bezel and bail have been recently added and are 18k gold; the bezel is marked as 18k on the back.

The medallion is pictured here on a Tiffany & Co. angular link chain, with our Signature 14K Gold Victorian Shepherd’s hook charm holder. We’ve also used this medallion as a mold for our Signature Collection and have a 14k gold version of the pendant available in our shop. 

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