The Beauty of the Antique Brooch
Perhaps the best quality of the brooch is that it does not have to be worked or designed to fit a certain shape. Rings, necklaces and bracelets have to fit a finger, neck and wrist, but there are no such limitations placed on the brooch. The brooch therefore has a freedom not enjoyed by other pieces of jewellery, and a rich and varied number of designs exist for this wonderful item of jewellery.
Antique Diamond Brooches
Diamond has been our favourite gemstone, throughout history, to set in the brooch. During both the Georgian and Victorian eras, diamond were set in silver to accentuate the whiteness of the stone, while the backs were set in gold. In the eighteenth century diamonds were set in closed back settings often on top of foils to brighten them, but around 1800 it was realised that the brilliance of diamonds increased if the back of the setting was open.
Many early Victorian brooches are botanical in design like the one above, and Victorian jewellers concerned themselves with realism and naturalism of the design. By the 1860s, brooches had become more whimsical with a craze for animal and insect motifs, while a brief fashion for sporting jewellery introduced the horse, dog, fox and other similar brooch designs in the 1880s. Later in the 1890s, and lead by the Princess of Wales who would soon after become Queen consort, star and crescent moon brooches gained popularity.
Art Nouveau Brooches
A significant change in brooch design towards the end of the Victorian era was the switch to stones such as amethysts, peridot and opal, and towards to the flowing lines of Art Nouveau. The Boer War was, at this point, impacting diamond supplies and the jewellery market adjusted accordingly. The impact of Art Nouveau jewellery though intense, was short lived.
Women during the Edwardian era were becoming emancipated and were keen to turn away from the femininity and softness of Art Nouveau jewels. Instead they sought stronger colours and outlines, and the brooch designs of 1900-1914 were to prove some of the most successful. Bar brooches set in the centre with various gem-set motifs were hugely popular, as were those in a garland style with wreaths and swags and crowned by bows. Other popular designs were the simple calibre-cut coloured stone line brooch.
Art Deco Brooches
After the First World War, society was keen to enjoy itself more than ever before. The modern lady now wanted her jewellery to reflect her love of luxury and fun in both colour and design. Black and white were favoured Art Deco colours, but brightly coloured rubies, sapphires and emeralds were used along with onyx, coral and jade. Brooches in the 1920s were worn on the shoulders, belts and sashes or pinned to fashionable cloche hats. Abstract, geometric designs were the flavour of the time, with platinum the preferred choice of metal.