19th c. Chinese engraved mother of pearl gaming counter 14k setting and freshwater pearl necklace. nlvn825
19th c Chinese etched mother of pearl gaming counter 14k pearl necklace
Antique 19th c. Chinese hand engraved mother of pearl gaming counter in 14k yellow gold hangs from a strand of vintage high quality freshwater and seed pearls with 14k gold beads. Beautiful detailed design of a dancing man with dragonfly and foliage surrounded by concentric circles of ornamental designs. Other side has similar concentric designs with ribbon like monogram design in the center. The mother of pearl has a lovely iridescence. The gaming counter is 1 3/4 inches in diameter. The pearl strand with gold beads is 22 1/2 inches with a 14k gold pearl clasp.
This antique hand-engraved gaming chip was created in China for export to Britain's aristocracy of the day. Starting in the early 1700's, wealthy European families commissioned Chinese artisans to make finely engraved sets of mother-of-pearl gaming counters for use in parlor games such as Ombre, Quadrille, Loo and Whist. The demand for these miniature works of art declined after 1840 when card games that did not require gaming tokens became more popular. The shells were ground flat, shaped, polished and engraved - 180-300 years ago, and all by hand! The particular large mollusk that provided these large flat shells was hunted to extinction to supply this trade. These counters are sought after by collectors and are wonderful centerpieces for jewelry.