|Unlike many of the pique pieces we encounter, this one has a substantial part of the design in silver. When first acquired, the silver was barely distinguishable from the surrounding tortoise-shell. Careful restoration, using baking soda and aluminum to reverse the tarnishing process brought it back to life.|
This large pique brooch has a central honeycomb pattern, surrounded by a Greek key motif.
Pique is one of the materials which cannot be legally made anymore. It is created by steaming and heating a base of tortoise-shell, which is then molded into shape. Thin rods of precious metal are embedded into the softened shell. After cooling and hardening, the surface is ground and polished.
These butterfly earrings are 18 karat gold framing pieces of tortoise shell. The pattern is worked into the shell by heating the shell to soften it, then embedding bars of gold and silver. Filing and polishing evens off the surface.