Brooches are ornamental clasps with an attached pin for affixing to a garment, as a fastener or decorative piece. Brooches originally evolved from the fibula; a pin used to keep garments closed in ancient times. Brooches come in many sizes and shapes and have appeared throughout history. In the Medieval period, brooches were made from different types of metals and worn by men and women. In the 1500s, expanding global trade routes brought prosperity and new discoveries to Europe and Great Britain. Specifically, trade routes opened for diamonds and gemstones as well as precious metals such as gold. Throughout the early modern period (1500-1800), demand for jewellery grew and styles and tastes changed rapidly. Many styles from this period have been lost to time as pieces were melted down and turned into new styles. In 1912, the Cheapside Hoard was discovered in London: a collection of Elizabethan and Stuart jewellery that had been buried below London for over 300 years. This collection of jewellery and objects, now in the Museum of London, had many examples of brooches set with different gemstones from amethysts and rubies to diamonds and emeralds.
In the Georgian era (1710-1830), the ornate and regal brooches of earlier periods gave way to more delicate and romantic pieces. Towards the end of the Georgian period, there was a revival in the styles of Ancient Greece: this was called Neoclassicism. During the Victorian era, brooches surged in popularity. Queen Victoria was given a magnificent sapphire and diamond brooch by Prince Albert, which she wore on her wedding day. Victorian brooches came in a variety of styles, from cameos to floral designs. The trend for brooches continued into the early 20th-century, with Art Nouveau, Edwardian, and Art Deco brooch styles all flourishing as adornments. Today, Queen Elizabeth II takes every opportunity she can to wear her collection of magnificent brooches. The brooches in the Royal Collection are worn by many members of the Royal Family, and each brooch has a specific sentimental meaning or history behind it.
Bentley & Skinner are delighted to have an extensive and important collection of brooches, ranging from the 18th century to the present. Brooches have traditionally allowed the craftsmen of the past to utilize many intricate techniques, and many of our brooches are true works of art. We are pleased to stock brooches in a variety of styles and from a variety of time periods, including Georgian, Victorian, Renaissance Revival, and Art Deco.