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Trending Brooches Past and Present

27 March 2020
Victorian Diamond Star Brooch

The History of Brooches

The evolution of the brooch is fascinating. Over many centuries it has transformed from a purely functional item into the bright, bold and beautiful statement pieces of today. In fact, the trending brooches of each era offer a wonderful glimpse into the fashions and lives of previous generations.

The earliest known brooches ever discovered are from the Bronze Age (3000 – 1200 BC). These primitive pieces, crafted out of metal, were solely functional. They were used to fasten garments and, as such, they lacked aesthetic beauty. However some of the brooches resembled recognisable objects of the time, such as bows and trumpets.

As metalwork and craftsmanship advanced, and various cultural influences came into play, the brooch began to evolve. No longer just a piece of metal, techniques such as enamelling, inlay and repoussé (adopted from Roman art) were used to create livelier and more ambitious pieces in Europe. Gemstones were also introduced; almandine (a type of garnet) was a popular choice.

Changing fashions and the introduction of new skills brought about inclinations towards different shapes in brooches. Circular brooches replaced “long” brooches during the 5th and 6th centuries. Brooches as a whole declined in England during the 7th century, but regained popularity in the 8th century.

Medieval Brooches (476 AD – 1453)

Worn by both men and women, trending brooches up to the 15th century were usually crafted in gold or silver and decorated with gemstones. Three dimensional pieces also began to appear. Heart-shaped brooches became a common gift of choice between friends and lovers.

Georgian Brooches (1714 – 1830)

The Georgian era of jewellery can be characterised by ornate designs and patterns, enamelling, canetille and repoussé. Mourning jewellery came into fashion during this period which extended into brooches. Locket-backed pieces, in which locks of hair were kept as mementos to lost loved ones, were commonplace. Portrait pieces were also popular – an example of this being our French Diamond and Gold Portrait Brooch. Georgian brooches were handmade, and were often decorated with pearls and diamonds.

The Grand Tour and Micro-Mosaic Brooches

An accepted custom for young gentlemen of upper-class backgrounds during the 1700s and 1800s was to take oneself off on a tour of Europe. The point of these trips was to indulge in the fruits of the Renaissance – the art and the culture.

Micro-mosaics became immensely popular in Italy, fashionable in their own right and often bought as gifts to send home to loved ones. Painstakingly created by laying down tiny pieces of glass (tesserae), subjects included famous Italian landmarks such as The Colosseum, or classical Roman mythology.

Victorian Egyptian Revival Brooches

Twice during the Victorian era, in the 1830s and 1880s, a resurgence of interest in Egyptian arts and architecture came and went. Later, the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 brought about the most widespread excitement, encouraging the manufacture of Egyptian themed goods around the world. Jewellery created during these peaks of popularity were coined with the term “Egyptian Revival”.

Art Deco Brooches

During the 1920s and 30s, brooches followed the trends of Art Deco style – geometric shapes, clean designs and cubism. Dress clips became the new popular accessory of choice and would be worn on clothing, fur and handbags. Dress clips (such as our emerald and diamond clip brooch shown below) resembled a traditional brooch when fastened together, but could be separated into two singular accessory pieces. They were commonly worn on collars and necklines of dresses.

Brooch Design in the 1960s

Radical changes in society and fashion during the 1960s saw a new wave of style for brooches. Bright colours and bold designs took the centre stage, with yellow gold being the metal of choice in trending brooches of the time. Textures were also experimented with and utilised in jewellery, a trend that continued into the 1980s. Statement pieces were now the must-have accessory, with flowers and animals becoming popular picks.

The Moira Collection

Inspired by clients looking for something different, Moira’s modern collection of brooches romanticises the flora and fauna of nature. Oversized flowers, vibrant insects and birds in flight have been created in brooch form. Moira uses a multitude of diamonds and coloured gemstones in her pieces, alongside colourful plique-à-jour enamel, creating striking statement pieces that you can’t find elsewhere.

Trending Brooches Today

With brooches appearing more frequently in the public eye, the notion of being “old-fashioned” goes out of the window. Her Majesty The Queen is regularly seen pictured with a signature statement piece. Celebrities on the red carpet have been spotted wearing diamond-set brooches. With decades of styles and designs to choose from, it’s no wonder that the brooch is becoming the must-have accessory piece – all over again.

Shop our entire collection of Antique, Vintage and Modern Brooches here.

Alice Suttle
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