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The History and Revival of Brooches

 

Known and loved for their versatile, decorative and functional features for centuries, brooches have celebrated a big comeback in recent years.

 

Nowadays mainly worn as adornments and as jewels and decorations on scarves, hats or blouses; brooches date back to the bronze age and have long served their sole functional role; to secure and close garments.

This all changed in the Byzantine era, when brooches were first set with gemstones and pearls.

 

This versatile jewel’s revival in recent years did not go unnoticed by estate jewellery enthusiasts – and antique brooches set with diamonds, coloured gemstones and pearls are more popular than ever.

On the rise during important social events and omnipresent on red carpets, women such as Kate Middleton, Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie wear antique brooches as statement jewels pinned on collars, dresses or as hair accessory.

Take a look at our favourite vintage brooch styles:

Antique platinum double clip from the Art Déco period, set with 274 diamonds, totaling approximate 14 ct.

The Double Clip

Created in the 1920ies, double clips are characterized by a framework that allows them to be worn either as a brooch or as two separate clips. These jewels were mainly worn on each side of the neckline and were generally crafted in platinum and set with diamonds.

Double clips remained popular throughout the whole Art Déco period, which ended around 1940.

Vintage yellow gold pin, featuring 13 yellow sapphires of together 11 ct as well as diamonds in different cuts. Approximate from the 1970ies.

The classic Pin

An all-time classic, the pin is usually a long “needle” with two decorative elements at each end. The decorative jewel is usually pinned in a way that hides the pin stem in the cloth. This jewel was extremely popular during the Art Déco period and was mainly worn on women’s dresses.

Silver bar brooch from the 18th century, set with five old cut diamonds.

The Bar brooch

Especially popular during the Edwardian era and later during the Art Déco period, bar brooches have earned their iconic status due to their elegant and timeless design. This type of brooch, which has been popular since the 18th century, consists of a horizontal precious metal bar that is often set with gemstones or pearls and will never go out of style.

Designed as an elephant, set with brilliant-cut diamonds, enhanced with a pear-shaped and sugarloaf ruby, emerald eyes and emerald bead topped with an inversely-set diamond. Signed Cartier, numbered, French assay mark for gold and maker’s mark. Approximate 1990.

Animal Brooches and Pins

Throughout all of the important jewellery periods, animals have been a prominent choice of motif for brooches. Particularly popular as a motif in the 19th century, the featured animals have predominantly been designed in naturalistic and very detailed manner in brooches except during the early Art Déco period. The portrayal of animals in Art Déco brooches was abstract and two-dimensional, which changed again in the 1930ies when designers went back to the three-dimensional designs.

Yellow gold brooch by French jeweller Mauboussin, set with rubies, pink tourmalines and brilliant-cut diamonds.

Insect Brooches

 When it comes to animal motifs, insects were the prevailing choice during the Art Nouveau era. Fashion savvy-women back then knew how to make the right choice with a brooch featuring a dragonfly, a bee or a butterfly. During this period, insect brooches were generally in yellow gold, featuring enamel and set with coloured gemstones.

Van Cleef & Arpels. Mystery set with square-cut rubies. Enhanced with brilliant-cut diamond pavé. All time classic of Van Cleef & Arpels. Produced since decades.

Floral Brooches

A recurring theme throughout the history of brooches are motifs inspired by nature and specifically by flowers. During the 1940ies opulent flower heads, set with coloured gemstones in elaborate designs were a must have.

Bow brooch in white gold, set with an old cut diamond as centre stone, next to 112 single cut diamonds.

Ribbon or Bow Brooch

All of the important jewellery periods had in common, that ribbon and bow brooches were an acclaimed motif. Designed with ribbon knots; the so-called “Sévigné” brooches never seem to go out of style due to their feminine aesthetic.

As symbols of marriage and love, ribbons and bows were most popular during the Belle époque and the Edwardian era and are still today among the favourite motifs of many jewellery designers, when it comes to brooches.

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