Brooches are making a comeback in modern fashion. Whether they are worn as an embellishment or to symbolize something meaningful, they can bring a sense of style and history to your outfits.
You can also pin them to the waistline of a dress for a unique fashion statement. To build a valuable and diverse collection, consider experimenting with various styles and eras of antique brooches.
Brooches were a symbol of wealth and social status in ancient times. They were often made of valuable materials such as gold and silver, and many were decorated with gemstones. Jewellery was also worn as a symbol of love. Many of these designs were inspired by nature and animals, or by people and places. The designs of brooches varied greatly over time. These trends often help archaeologists date accompanying finds from archaeological sites.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, people began favoring ornate styles of brooches. These included the en tremblant style of brooch, which translates to “to tremble.” Other popular designs were hard paste cameos that showcased portrait silhouettes or classical scenes. These types of brooches were also known as livery badges. They are often engraved with the name of the maker or with a hallmark.
Many antique brooches are crafted in precious metals with gems, enamel, carving and engraving. You can find designs from the Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian periods as well as Art Deco brooches.
Cameo brooches are popular with collectors. These hard-shell carved pieces often depict mythologies or famous people. Victorian Era mourning brooches are another option as these pins were used to display remembrances of deceased loved ones.
Check out the clasp mechanism when shopping for a vintage brooch. Look for a T-bar hinge and c-clasp types. Pieces with a rolling-over’safety’ clasp are newer and may not be as authentic. Enamel brooches are also a great choice, as this technique dates back to ancient times. Look for a brightly colored area on the base metal that reveals the enamel underneath.
Vintage brooches are made with a variety of materials including precious metals, gemstones and fine enamelling. Some are even by well-known couture designers like Dior or Yves Saint Laurent and can therefore be quite valuable.
Aigrette brooches were popular from the 17th to the 20th century and were generally feather-shaped and set with flat-cut diamonds or garnets in silver settings. Many could also be worn in the hair and were very detailed with tiny birds flying around the plume.
Trombone clasps, named for the musical instrument, feature a slim metal casing that can be pushed over the end of the pin and enclose it to secure it. This type of simple clasp/catch first rose in popularity within the Art Nouveau era and it is still used today.
Brooches have made a comeback in recent years, with many high-fashion houses incorporating them into their designs. As a result, collectors are also drawn to this type of jewellery. Whether worn in the hair or on the lapel, a brooch can add a sophisticated touch to any outfit.
Authenticity is one of the most important aspects of any antique brooch. The best way to determine its age is to examine the clasp and hinge on the back. Those from the Victorian and Edwardian eras typically feature C clasps or trombone clasps.
A Georgian Bird of Paradise pin, listed on Etsy by Romanov Russia is a museum-quality collectible. It features rose gold diamonds and sapphires and weighs 13.8 gm. The piece is valued at $45,000. This is a piece that will surely make heads turn at any event.
When assessing the value of an antique brooch, there are many factors to consider. First, evaluate the piece’s material composition — vintage pieces featuring rare gemstones like emeralds and sapphires or premium metals like gold carry inherent worth. Intricate detailing and innovative design also bolster a brooch’s value. Finally, consider the reputation of the designer or brand — jewelry from renowned houses like Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels hold considerable worth.
In addition to these considerations, the age of an antique brooch can affect its value. Familiarizing yourself with design styles that were popular during specific historical periods can help you gauge the age of a piece. It’s also helpful to learn how to identify hallmarks and other identifying marks, such as engravings or fasteners, when determining an item’s age.