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30th March 2010 15:15

Brooches

 

We are interested in all aspects of jewellery here at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design, including jewellery history and meaning. Jewellery is not a new thing, but has existed since the earliest man and one of the earliest types of jewellery is the brooch.

At first brooches were practical accessories for fastening the large pieces of cloth which people wore to cover their bodies. It is believed that the earliest kind of brooch was most likely the simple thorn and that the first safety-pin type brooches were widely used to hold together clothing in the bronze age. In the ancient Greek and Roman empires women and men secured tunics, capes and other pieces of clothing with the modern day equivalent of a brooch (a fibula).

The appearance of the brooch evolved over time with the developing crafts of metal and goldsmithing and became a decorative as well as practical item. The Byzantines had a passion for colour and with them for the first time brooches designs were bright and intricate.

As the size of the brooches grew very intricate designs became possible with symbols, family crests and other meaningful patterns and they became very sort after objects. Small words and mottos were at times engraved on to the piece.

Brooches were first mass-produced in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries and these early brooches often used elaborate designs, but whilst decorative, they were also practical as they were still primarily used to fasten clothing, especially women's dresses.

Here is a really interesting article from the British Museum on the Strickland Brooch which was made in the 9th century.

In between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, crystals and gemstones were encrusted onto brooches to contrast the design from the heavy, dark metal bases.

Eventually, there were pieces produced that were completely bejewelled and the brooch became extremely popular. Shortly after the fifteenth century, craftsmen and designers started using more precious and higher quality metals in their production. Gold and silver were used as the foundation of the brooch. Along with this increase in quality, brooches also soon came to be known as an accessory that represented the stature and success of its wearer.

By the early 20th century, women in Europe were experimenting with different ways of wearing brooches. It became fashionable to wear brooches at the waistline and later on the shoulders. Now, the brooch is used to embellish clothing, handbags, scarfs, hats, just about anything that needs an added bit of glamour. It can still bring a lot of class and elegance to an outfit if it is designed properly and used fashionably.

Here are a couple of examples of brooches that our bespoke designers have created here.

Sterling silver brooch
Sterling silver leaf brooch
 

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