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Diamond “Coach Cover” Pendant Earrings


These convertible day/night pendant earrings feature old European-cut diamonds mounted in 18K gold. Each is designed as a shaped gold top suspending a removable hinged sphere with applied wirework decoration, opening to reveal a prong-set old European-cut diamond, approximate total weight 2.35 carats. Versatile and fascinating, these unusual earrings easily transform from rich gold textured spheres to sparkly old diamond drops, always beautiful to fit any mood or occasion.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: ER-20113
Circa: Contemporary Enhancement
Size:  1.00” length; 0.50” diameter of sphere
Materials: 2 old European-cut diamonds (approximate total weight 2.35 carats; 18K gold

Jewelry making in late 19th century was transformed by American innovators who turned their genius to all aspects of the trade, from experimental diamond cutting to patenting new mountings. This style of earring was inspired by an 1870s New York jeweler who realized that social strictures still limited the increasing freedoms that women were beginning to experience, and he wanted to introduce a helpful solution. Rigid rules governing when and how to wear diamonds had not yet been set aside. So that women could attend a variety of social occasions during the day and still go out to dinner and the opera without having to worry about changing, or being accused of poor taste, the jeweler created spherical “snap on covers” to hide diamond earrings during daylight hours. For the more liberated and glamorous evenings, the gold spheres could be removed to reveal the diamonds within. A black enamel version of these “snap on covers” might be worn during mourning. Later dealers began referring to these spheres as “coach covers’ to give them an air of romance and danger, but in fact stage coaches and post roads infested with highwaymen were already picturesque tales from a distant past by the late 19th century, the age of the railroad, when these covers were invented. For an advertisement for the original design for this style of earring, see Martha Gandy Fales, Jewelry in America, p. 313, plate 171. The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds a period pair of these earrings, donated by Mrs. Fales, in the jewelry collection of the American Wing.