Imagine an astonishing form of jewellery. Often encrusted with diamonds, precious stones, rare natural pearls and shimmering enamels of every hue. A form that stretches back to the Roman Centurions and encompasses some of the most spectacular examples of Victorian, Art Deco, modern and contemporary jewellery design. Imagine the craftsmanship attributed to these forms by the world’s most revered jewellers, Louis Cartier, Alfred Van Cleef, Joseph Chaumet, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Worn by Maharajahs, Queens, Emperors, politicians, and movie stars alike, all whilst attending some of the most legendary society events in history. A form that is not limited to a wrist, finger, or ear – something that can adorn almost any part of the body.
What is this astonishing form of jewellery you may ask? Ladies and Gentlemen… the brooch.
In recent years, brooches have been making a steady comeback to the minds of jewellery collectors and fashion’s elite. No longer regarded as an adornment of an era bygone, the brooch has been triumphed by the style makers who continue to breathe new life through their daring and creative styling. Not only women but also men are at the forefront of championing the resurgence.
One can only look to the recent Met Gala, the mecca of fashion events, where Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) meticulously styled his lapel with two David Yurman pieces, or Austin Bulter (Elvis) with his jabot pin by Cartier. Uma Thurman’s brooch styling made headlines around the world during her attendance of the event in 2016. A bird brooch made by Cartier in 1948 perched on her shoulder strap. The bird measuring just over 20cm flew in just in time for the occasion from the Cartier Collection in Paris. Designed under the supervision of Creative Director Jeanne Toussaint, the platinum setting has almost 90 carats of diamonds covering the plumage.
Worn close to the heart and without inhibiting or directly ornamenting the body, brooches are often the statement jewellery of choice for contemporary and powerful women. The first female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, and of course Queen Elizabeth II, are all know to have worn brooches to convey their views, feelings or even hidden messages.
Many clever people are also finding great pleasure in repurposing these beautifully constructed pieces into different forms of jewellery to best suit their individual style. Think Victorian crescent brooches converted into beautiful pendants, or Art deco plaques into fabulous dress rings.
So, reach into the depths of your jewellery boxes and bring these astonishing creations forth into the light, where they were always destined to be. Style them in your hair for a special occasion, or place multiples together in a cluster for a more modern look. Place them on belts, shoe buckles, or the cuff of a shirt. You are only limited by your own imagination.
LAUREN BOUSTRIDGE / Senior Jewels Specialist, Sydney
Banner Image: Uma Thurman attends the 2016 Met Gala, wearing a vintage Cartier brooch / Alamy