Jewel with gold letters spelling amor, mid–15th century
Gold, pearls, diamond, emerald paste; Overall 1 1/8 x 15/16 in. (2.9 x 2.4 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1957 (57.26.1)
This gold cluster jewel includes the Latin word amor (love) in delicate gold letters. It could have been worn either as a pendant or a brooch, and in portraits of young women many similar jewels are seen in their hair or at the shoulder or neck. Expensive jewelry played an important role in betrothal and marriage, and the groom gave brooches to the bride as tokens of love. In 1447, for example, Marco Parenti gave his betrothed, Caterina Strozzi, a golden brooch with two sapphires and three pearls to be worn on her shoulder.