Edwardian gold, enamel and onyx vanity case, circa 1915


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A nécessaire is a small clutch that carries a lady’s essentials. (Provided that she is very wealthy, and the people around her are actually doing all the necessary heavy lifting.)

Here’s an American 14-carat gold and enamel nécessaire/vanity case. The top ring slips over a finger and a cabochon onyx clasp opens it. Inside is a tiny mirror and two even smaller hinged makeup compartments, also in gold. It’s a perfect party accessory for a wealthy socialite.

The neoclassical design is the same on the back, though the rear cartouche is not engraved.

Neoclassicism in jewellery is not confined to any one period. It takes its design cues from the pared-down shapes, restraint, flatness and muted colours of classicism. (Romanticism is the opposite, celebrating exuberance, asymmetry and sculptured curves)

I googled Jean Allison and the address engraved inside. It’s now a half-acre empty lot, up for sale.

And I found this in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of November 3 1921: “Mrs. Florence Allison of 5034 Washington ave and her daughter miss Jean Allison, returned Saturday from California, where they spent several months.”


• Handmade in 14-carat yellow gold
• Approximately 60cm (6 1/4 inches) long including top ring, 3.2cm (1 1/4 inches) wide
• Weight is 54.5 grams
• In excellent antique condition
• Will come in a Karen Deakin gift box
• Note: the antique anchor-link chain is for sale separately – please get in touch if you’d like information about it

Please examine the photographs carefully – they form part of the description.

I’d be very happy to send more information and images. Layaway available.

I accept returns within 14 days if you’re not delighted with your purchase.

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I accept returns within 14 days if you’re not delighted with your purchase.

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