Edwardian Repoussé Padlock Bracelet

I found this repoussé curb link bracelet at the St. Lawrence Market a while back. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was missing a heart-shaped padlock (I had a similar bracelet before, but it wasn’t in as good shape). I trolled eBay for months trying to find a nice puffy repoussé lock, but this style of bracelet seems to be coming more desirable and I got outbid every time. Finally I won an auction for a plainer clasp from the same era. Well the chain might be a decade or two older.

Padlock bracelets represent security and fidelity and were therefore wildly popular amongst the Victorians (I read that Queen Victoria herself had a collection). Here’s a link to a similar model that was salvaged from the wreck of the Titanic. Many padlocks came with a little key to open them up, but this one opens with a spring clasp.

And a quick note on repoussé: The technique involves “pushing” out the design. Each link in this chain is hollow which means the design was first impressed, then the link was formed. Look carefully at the photo below and you’ll see little holes which the silversmith made in order to work the metal. This technique saved on the cost of silver, but the man hours spent creating the chain must have been insane!