Examples of Australian colonial jewellery are scarce and it is particularly unusual to find pieces that can be traced back to previous owners. So, we are particularly excited to present a fabulous example in our forthcoming Jewels Auction, which takes place in Sydney on 6 June.
The rare gold Goldfields brooch has all the attributes of a classic piece of Australian jewellery, intricately detailed with birds and mining tools in a foliate surround. Made at the time of the gold rush when rapid wealth was experienced by many, this type of memento jewellery was either acquired or personally made for those who made their fortunes on the goldfields.
This brooch has been in the same family since the late 19th century and was gifted to Louise Adeline Harris by Edward Reeves on the occasion of their wedding. It is known that Edward, who founded ‘The Reeves School of Elocution’, travelled from Adelaide to Ballarat and Bendigo for eisteddfods in the late 1890s. In the boom of the 1850s there were any number of jewellers from Britain and Europe who are known to have worked on the Victorian goldfields and major cities, meeting the demand of wealthy prospectors and merchants who were riding the wave of success. By the end of the 19th century this prosperity floundered and many of the gold and stone set pieces of jewellery from the previous decades was either sold on the secondary market, or melted down for gold. This brooch became a family heirloom and was much cherished. Edward died in 1925 and the brooch has been handed down the male line of the Reeves family ever since. With no further heirs, it was reluctantly decided that the brooch would be sold at auction to be enjoyed and appreciated by a new
JOHN D’AGATA / Associate Head of Jewels