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).