Enameled Hinged Bracelet
Hinged yellow gold bracelet with security chain. Along the front half of the bangle is the French inscription in Gothic script “Aultre n’Auray’ (I would have no other) in opaque pale blue enamel and delicate scrolling foliage in translucent green, red, and yellow enamel. Both diamond-encrusted capital letters ‘A’ are set in a rectangle against translucent red and blue enamel. The other half of the bracelet is plain and inscribed inside: ‘11. April 1881’. Inside the clasp mechanism are two French owl marks.
“As precious as illuminated parchments” is how Lucien Falize described his bracelets decorated with translucent enamels and adorned with inscriptions. Elsewhere he refers to the medieval “fashion for jewelry decorated with mottos” beginning in the fourteenth century. This exquisitely refined bracelet bears the amatory phrase “Aultre n’Auray” (I would have no other) in Gothic script shaped with opaque pale blue champlevé enamel. A delicate enameled spray of ivy leaves and tear drops trails above the inscription, and majuscule letter ‘A’s are traced in gold then studded with small diamonds. The effect is delectable.
Alexis Falize and his son Lucien Falize designed such bracelets with script and mottos in the style of late medieval manuscript illumination before 1875. The public admired them at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, and under the third generation Falize Frères they continued to be in demand. This one bears the same inscription as one with a Bapst et Falize maker’s mark, and it too may be a product of Bapst et Falize. There is no census of the surviving examples, but at least a dozen are known worldwide.
In fabricating these medieval-inspired bracelets (and occasionally pins and rings), the Falize jewelers were in line with the times. Both the letter forms (called “black letter”) and the scrollwork echo French and English manuscript illumination from around 1400, and although the exact motto is not found on extant medieval rings, a related motto “Aultre ne Veult” is recorded. But the jewelers probably instead consulted sources from the last decades of the nineteenth century when amateur illumination
Falize 1889, p. 453; (comparisons) exh. cat. Pariser Schmuck 1989, p. 164, no. 95; Purcell 1999, p. 85, fig. 125 and pp. 226–229, figs. 316–319; Vever 2001, p. 953, figs. 92–93; Falk 2004, p. 40, cat. nos. 34–35); (manuscript illumination) Hindman et al. 2004, esp. pp. 149–153; (related mottos) Joan Evans, Posy Rings, Oxford, 1931, p. 6; Diana Scarisbrick, “I like my choyce”: Posy Rings from the Griffin Collection, London, 2021, no. 8.