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Brooches History

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Brooch History

Thought to be the logical evolution from functional bone or wood fastenings on clothing, brooches are pieces of jewellery specially designed to attach to the clothes rather than the body. A brooch typically has a pin, clip or other fastening on the back so that it can be worn as an accessory; alternatively, some brooches have a practical purpose – for example, holding a cloak shut. Romans, Greeks, Celts and other tribes in Europe used brooches for just that purpose. The oldest brooches date back to the early Bronze Age.

Historically, brooches have been made from gold, silver, bronze and other metals – the basic forms are often coated with colourful enamels or encrusted with gemstones. Today, brooches take on many different shapes, sizes and styles, some suiting fashion and some performing functional duties. Tribal cultures often made ornate brooches which echoed their natural surroundings or iconic elements in their folklore – today, brooches are similarly themed. There are brooches shaped like animals, flowers, serpents, and Celtic knots; some made from crystals, coloured glass, and other, natural elements incorporated into brooches made today.

Because jewellery is generally something one keeps for a long time, and often is something that people hand down from generation to generation, older pieces of jewellery are relatively common. One of the most chic pieces of ‘old' jewellery to own is a vintage brooch. Perhaps they are popular because iconic designers, such as Coco Chanel, hand crafted some truly amazing brooches; or maybe it's because a brooch is more one-size-fits-all than a ring or a bracelet – whatever the reason, vintage brooches are a good investment piece for any collection.

Though most brooches are designed with ladies in mind, there are also a reasonable number of designers who make discreet brooches and pins for men. There are also brooches with clips designed to be safe in the hands of children (and those of us with less than steady grown-up fingers).



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