Belle Époque pearl bee brooch. Set with two natural saltwater pearls in closed back settings, approximately 5.1-5.2 x 3.9mm and 8.5 x 7.2 x 5.0mm in diameter, further adorned with a round cabochon natural unenhanced tiger's eye in an open backclaw setting with an approximate weight of 2.50 carats, surrounded by fifteen round rose cutdiamonds in open back rubover and grain settings with a combined approximate weight of 0.15 carats, the eyes set with two round cabochon natural unenhanced rubies in open back rubover settings with a combined approximate weight of 0.06 carats, to a stylised bee shaped brooch of an intricate openwork design, curving claws and polished edges, fitted to reverse with a secure hinged pin and locking clasp, approximately 5cm in length. Tested 15 carat yellow gold, circa 1905, accompanied by Gemmological Certification Services report #79183-17.
Today we think of brooches as a purely decorative item but brooches in their earliest form had a far more important role. In a time before buttons, brooches were used to hold clothing together.
The earliest forms of brooches appeared during the Neolithic period and Bronze Age with straight pins used as closers for clothing. The design evolved as time progressed to the Roman fibula (Latin for brooch). These brooches have a curved top allowing the sprung pin to hook into itself and form a secure closer.
During the late Roman period the penannular brooch was developed, this is formed of a ring with a pin attached. The early brooches would have been rather plain in design but as time progressed they increased in size and decoration became more complex. Zoomorphic designs of animals featured regularly with enamelling used to add colour to the pieces.
During the Viking period, brooches were used not only as a functional device but also to show the status and wealth of an individual.
The practical uses of brooches ceased during the middle ages when brooches transitioned into ornaments used purely for adornment and decoration, ushering a new phase for this jewellery item.
Brooches can be found in an array of designs featuring precious metals, gemstones of every kind, fine enamelling, engraving and carving. Due to their versatile nature, brooches can and have been worn on hats, scarves, overcoats, ball gowns, sashes, belts and even as pendants.
Our reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II is rarely seen without one of her elegant brooches. Since her coronation in 1952 she has delighted us with creations from the finest of jewellery houses such as Garrard, Boucheron and Cartier to name a few.