- Material: 15k gold tested, amethysts, seed pearls, rubies, hard stone for the cameo.
- Size: 6" by 3 1/8" only cameo is 1" by 5/8".
- Weight: 62.2 grammes.
- Date and origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
- Conditions: Immaculate. The amethyst on the right arm of the cross is lighter in color than the other ones.
Highest quality gold cross encrusted with gems and canter by a hardstone Museum Quality cameo depicting Jesus crowned by a crown of thorns. This is a finest example of a Pectoral Cross, worn by Popes, Cardinals and Bishops of the Catholic Church and surely owned by one of them and surely he was an important and powerful one as this cross is richly encrusted of gems. I have tried to investigate about the original owner but unfortunately I discovered nothing. The cross is made in late Renaissance style, the gold is finely chiselled and on the back there is a locket who can be opened and was used to contain a relic. Four big amethysts are on each arm of the cross, another one is on the large bale, there are also many rubies and seed pearls around the cameo of Jesus that is really finely carved. His face is suffering and his head is slightly bent downwards. His eyes are closed and He really seems thinking to all the sins of the humanity which He's carrying on His shoulders. A real touching cameo of Jesus centered on His symbol, the cross. I'm speechless looking at this breathtaking piece because of the cameo but even because of the richness and the beauty of the cross itself. This is a rarest piece, I have never had the pleasure to find any other one, a must have for any collector. Cameos on Pectoral Crosses are rare and finding one with a cameo in immaculate conditions is almost impossible. Another Museum Quality cameo, a more than desirable object for you all.
Note: The last picture shows a Pectoral Cross with amethysts and diamonds made in Italy in the 1878.
A bit of history:
A pectoral cross or pectorale (from the Latin pectoralis
, "of the chest") is a cross that is worn on the chest, usually suspended from the neck by a cord or chain. In ancient and medieval times pectoral crosses were worn by both clergy and laity but by the end of the Middle Ages the pectoral cross came to be a special indicator of position worn by bishops, and the wearing of a pectoral cross is now restricted to popes, cardinals, bishops and abbots. The pectoral cross has become one of the episcopal symbols after the Catholic Reform and as such it is explicitly mentioned in the Caerimoniale Episcoporum (1606) but its use by the Pope and by the Bishops is documented since the early days of Christianity, as evidenced by many literaly sources.
The modern pectoral cross is relatively large, and is different from the small crosses worn on necklaces by many Christians. Most pectoral crosses are made of precious metals (platinum, gold or silver) and some contain precious or semi-precious gems. Some contain a corpus like a crucifix while others use stylized designs and religious symbols.
In many Christian denominations, it is a sign that the person wearing it is a member of the clergy and it may signify that the wearer is a member of the higher or senior clergy; however, in many Western churches there are an increasing number of laypeople who choose to wear some form of a cross around their neck.
While many Christians, both clergy and laity, wear crosses, the pectoral cross is distinguished by both its size (up to six inches across) and that it is worn in the center of the chest below the heart (as opposed to just below the collarbones).
Throughout the centuries, many pectoral crosses have been made in the form of reliquaries which contain alleged fragments of the True Cross or relics of saints. Some such reliquary pectorals are hinged so that they open to reveal the relic, or the relic may be visible from the front through glass.