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At its height in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Portuguese empire stretched from Brazil to India and Japan, and countless precious stones were extracted from the mines of Brazil for the jewellery of the aristocrats of Lisbon.
Jeweller SJ Phillips has assembled a collection of over 70 pieces from this period and, in association with auction house Sotheby’s, is putting them on show at a museum in Portugal.
Francis Norton, a director at SJ Phillips, says the business had been acquiring Portuguese jewellery — largely outside the country — for a decade when it put on a selling show in London in October 2016. A Portuguese employee of Sotheby’s saw it and said, according to Mr Phillips, that there were no collections of comparable quality in Portugal itself. He proposed the current show.
The pieces, which draw on floral and sacred motifs, embed diamonds, sapphires and emeralds in gold and silver-gilt, alongside bright semi-precious stones. They tend to the baroque style, with elaborate designs. When the jewels are back in London, prices will range from £2,000 to £200,000.
The SJ Phillips Collection of Jewels of Portugal is at the Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida in Lisbon May 25-28