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The Unsung Hero: The Brooch

The Unsung Hero: The Brooch

The Unsung Hero: The Brooch

Brooches are the unsung heroes of our jewellery boxes. They are versatile adornments that effortlessly transform any outfit from ordinary to truly extraordinary! Brooches are among the few jewellery categories that do not touch your skin or have size limits, and when chosen tastefully, a brooch demonstrates character, style and even creativity and sense of humour.

Since their first appearance, the brooch has been continually redefined, taking on different forms and sizes, and moving from the functional to the decorative. If we cast our minds back to the Bronze age, traditional early brooches consisted of unassuming materials such as flint and thorns, and would typically be used to secure or fasten heavy cloaks and tunics.

Parthian gold dress pins, circa 3rd century BC-3rd century AD.
Berganza Collection

Over time, as clothing styles evolved and fastening methods improved, brooches became more ornamental and were often worn as symbols of wealth, status and power.

In England, possibly the first female monarch to turn the brooch into a statement was Elizabeth I. The Virgin Queen wore an intricate brooch for most courtly occasions.

Young Elizabeth I 

In fact, her sumptuously ornate dresses tended to look like hundreds of brooches stitched together.

Moving on to the Georgian era, in a famous tale, the Prince of Wales (who later became George IV) sent his lover a letter containing a pearl-lined miniature brooch with a painting of his eye. Two diamonds appear beneath the eye, as if to be tears.

Lovers Eye Brooch With Diamond Tears
V&A Collection

George's romantic token inspired the trend of eye miniatures, also known as 'lovers' eyes'. They were usually exchanged as gifts between lovers, painted on ivory and set inside a gemstone brooch. These would be pinned close to the heart, or tucked away in pockets.

Like Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria also popularised jewellery during her reign, and in particular, decorative pins and brooches.

Queen Victoria

Victorian jewellery was typically romantic and sentimental with naturalistic and celestial designs laden with symbolism. Brooches would often feature cameos, micro-mosaics and enamel work and they were also worn as mourning jewellery.

Victorian Cameos From The Berganza Collection
Left & Right

The dress clip was a savvy design that was worn with the new style of fashion during the 1920s and 1930s. Interchangeable in that they could be worn in more than one way, they would start out as one large brooch, with a mechanism in the back that meant they could be detached and worn as two separate clips. They could be pinned to a neckline, the straps of gowns, collars, cuffs, or even be worn in the hair or attached to a hand bag.

Dress Clip In Both It's Forms
Note The Reverse For The Fittings To Change It's Form

The brooch has been considered indispensable in the jewellery box of many legendary figures including leading fashion icon Coco Chanel, Queen Elizabeth II and more recently, the notable former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. As she recounted in Read My Pins: Stories from A Diplomat’s Jewel Box, Albright used brooches as weapons in her diplomatic arsenal to send messages both warm and witty, along with conveying inner and outer strength.

The Glamour Of Brooches Can Be Seen From The Hollywood Stars To The 
Adverts From Jewellery Houses

So why a brooch? Supremely eloquent, the brooch could be considered the most empowering of all jewellery statements. For designers, its open form and size – absent the need for it to fit a particular part of the body– means free creative rein. The incredible versatility of the brooch is such that on one day it can be casually worn on a lapel and on the next day, converted into a pendant or even pinned into wedding hair, or used to cinch in a garment – and these are just a few options among many. For wearers, a brooch presents a wonderful opportunity to tell a story or simply just enjoy!

To view our extensive collection of brooches through the ages, visit the Berganza website, or book an appointment with one of our jewellery specialists in our Hatton Garden showroom, where each piece is available to see and try on!

Carlo Arthur Giuliano diamond brooch berganza hatton garden
Carlo & Arthur Giuliano antique diamond wing brooch, circa 1900
Ref: 25346
Antique diamond set 'Saint Esprit' brooch berganza hatton garden
Antique diamond set 'Saint Esprit' brooch, circa 1860.
Ref: 25413
Marcus & Co. sapphire and diamond brooch berganza hatton garden
Art Deco sapphire and diamond bow brooch by Marcus & Co., American, circa 1935.
Ref: 25419
Vintage diamond brooch berganza hatton garden
Vintage diamond brooch, circa 1950.
Ref: 25485
Victorian diamond pendant/brooch, circa 1880 hatton garden
Victorian diamond pendant/brooch, circa 1880.
Ref: 27915
Cartier emerald and diamond dog brooch, circa 1940. Hatton Garden
Cartier emerald and diamond fox brooch, circa 1940.
Ref: 27959
Aquamarine and diamond brooch berganza hatton garden
Art Deco aquamarine and diamond brooch, American, circa 1925.
Ref: 25324
Art Deco diamond double clip brooch, circa 1920 hatton garden
Art Deco diamond double clip brooch, circa 1920.
Ref: 27657
Vintage dog brooch, English, 1974. Hatton Garden
Vintage dog brooch, English, 1974.
Ref: 28350
Rare amethyst, emerald pearl brooch Carlo Giuliano hatton gardenRare amethyst, emerald pearl brooch Carlo Giuliano hatton garden
Rare amethyst, emerald and pearl brooch by Carlo Giuliano, English, circa 1890.
Ref: 25355
front view antique Diamond floral brooch berganza hatton garden
Diamond floral spray brooch, English, circa 1850.
Ref: 25486
Cartier rose cut diamond bar brooch hatton garden
Cartier diamond bar brooch, French, circa 1920.
Ref: 25422
Art Deco onyx, diamond emerald brooch berganza hatton garden
Art Deco onyx, diamond and emerald brooch, circa 1925.
Ref: 25370
Antique ruby and diamond crescent brooch hatton garden
Burmese ruby and diamond crescent brooch, French, circa 1885.
Ref: 25352
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Updated 19/05/2024 at 1:34PM

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