Antique & Vintage Brooches
Brooches and pins were hugely popular in times gone by. Their popularity has waxed and waned in more recent times, though a resurgence is happening with more and more women and men choosing to adorn their coats, jackets and hats with these wonderful items. Often hugely symbolic items of jewellery, our selection of antique brooches all come with free worldwide delivery and if you are not happy with your brooch, you can send it back within 30 days. Returns within the UK are free of charge, and outside the UK are at the purchaser's cost.
But why do we love antique brooches so? Perhaps the best quality of the brooch is it's versatility. Unlike other jewellery, brooches do 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 as a result.
Antique Diamond Brooches
Diamond has been one of the most coveted gemstones throughout human history, and diamonds have long been a firm favourite gemstone to set into a 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. So from here on in diamonds began to be set in open backed settings, which became more delicate into the 1900s once a torch was developed that could burn hot enough to work platinum. With the advent of platinum jewellery in the Edwardian era, brooches became brighter and gemstone settings more delicate, with far more light delivered through the diamonds then ever before.
Victorian Moon & Star Brooches
Many early Victorian brooches are botanical in design with floral and leaf sprays being a common focus. Victorian jewellers at first concerned themselves with realism and naturalism, but 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 Alexandra the Princess of Wales who would soon after become Queen Consort, star and crescent moon brooches gained popularity. The princess's brooches, of course, were studded with the finest South African diamonds, but many more modest replicas popped up in the jewellers' windows the country over. And popular gemstones alternatives to set into antique brooches were seed pearls, garnets, amethysts, citrines, rubies and sapphires. While the moon brooch was said to represent femininity and fertility, the star brooch was a considered a motif for spirituality and guidance - a bright light in a dark night sky.
Art Nouveau & Arts and Crafts Brooches
A significant change in brooch design towards the end of the Victorian era was the switch to stones such as amethyst, peridot, opal and turquoise and design wise towards to the flowing lines of the Art Nouveau movement. 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. Aside from the very famous Art Nouveau jeweller Rene Lalique, a notable and more modest jewellery designer of the era, who also overlapped with the Arts and Crafts movement, was Murrle Bennett. Brooches by Murrle Bennett (MB&CO) are exceptionally collectible today, as are those by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co.
By the early 1900s, women 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 to date. Large amethyst or citrine stones were commonly set into brooches with a halo or two of seed pearls, and bar brooches set in the centre with various gem-set motifs were hugely popular, as were those in a crowned by small bows. Other popular designs were the simple calibre-cut line brooch, a precursor to the simple yet bold designs of the Art Deco era. Edwardian brooches were crafted in 9ct, 15ct and 18ct gold and also platinum and are hugely collectible today, as are the stick pins that were commonly pinned into Edwardian hats.
Antique 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 to add bold contrasts. 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. Brooches could be the very high end creations of jewellers like Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron, or they could be simple sterling silver or even brass designs of backroom jewellers set with paste stones in a variety of colours. These wonderful pieces of jewellery were loved by people of all social classes and worn daily. Vintage brooches, along with rings, are some of our favourite jewellery items to source at Kit Clayton, and they often survive in great condition too, due to the nature of their wearing - neither worn on hands nor wrists where they are more likely to get damaged - vintage brooches instead sat safely on the torso.