It seems the name comes from the word “mimium” (red lead oxide), a substance used as a component to make the ink for the illustrations in the old codex.
The history of these miniatures dates back from the beginning of the writing. During the Middle Age this sort of artwork was used to decorate manuscripts and books with illustrations. This type of decoration keeps being used along the Renaissance and Baroque. However, when the printing press the miniatures stopped being useful and the art almost disappeared.
We are going to focus in what means miniatures for jewelry: small illustrations usually made over ivory, shells, metal or any other material that were used to decorate bracelets, pendants or lockets. You also can find these tiny and creative paintings in fans, medallions, watches, jewelry box or earrings. The miniatures are usually made with oil painting over copper, tin or similar metal.
This art stamps a very special nature to the piece and makes it unique and a once-in-a-life-time jewel. Wearing a bracelet with a tiny decoration over ivory, or a pocket watch with little illustrations made by a master makes you feel different, important, unique. You are wearing a piece that you could easily find exposed in an exhibition.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy nowadays to find an artisan able to create these miniatures. We actually spent a lot of time looking for a reproduction that was really worth being included in our collection. The only two workshops we finally found in Italy and Spain make tiny pieces in Golden brass, those that I’m including in this post, and decorations over fans .
We keep looking for more pieces with miniatures as decoration, but they are very special jewelry worth being part of our historic jewels collection…