Renaissance: Real and Revived

After many years of prominent display, the authenticity of the "Canning jewel," a prize of the jewelry collection at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is being openly questioned. This exquisitely crafted pendant was believed to date to the 1580s and is considered one of the finest surviving examples of the genius, inventiveness, and skill of the Renaissance jeweler. It was designed around a baroque pearl fashioned as the muscular torso of a merman. Word began to circulate last year, however, that experts had taken another look and decided that the Canning jewel may actually be a 19th-century creation. "Recent investigation indicates that it's too good to be true and is, in fact, a neo-Renaissance copy," announced John Benjamin, British specialist in Renaissance to 19th-century jewelry, at the Annual Antique & Period Jewelry and Gemstone Conference in Rhode Island last July. Th

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