A Beautiful Brooch’s Story

Published: 19th September 2011
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A brooch also known as fibula in ancient times is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold but sometimes bronze or some other material. Brooches are frequently decorated with enamel or with gemstones and may be solely for ornament,or sometimes serve a practical function as a fastening, perhaps for a cloak. The earliest known brooches are from the Bronze Age. As fashions in brooches changed rather quickly, they are important chronological indicators.

From the eighteenth century through the Victorian era it was fashionable to incorporate hair and portraiture into a brooch. The practice began as an expression of mourning, and then expanded to keepsakes of loved ones who were living. Human hair was encased within the brooch or braided and woven into a band to which clasps were affixed. It was not uncommon for miniature brooch portraits to incorporate ground human hair as pigment. Two sided swivel brooches would display a portrait on one side and a lock of hair on the other; the latter could be crafted with semiprecious stones to resemble a bouquet. Brooches aren’t just for Grandma any more. No accessory can do a better job of telling a story, while at the same time providing functionality and versatility.

First, think of a brooch as a little snapshot of your personality, like a name tab but without any formality. What message would you like to send the world?

Second, larger and more unusual brooches can be great icebreakers, providing a ready opportunity for someone to strike up a conversation with you.

Third, Brooches are easily worn in multiples. Collect compatible motifs, metals, colors, or shapes and mix them up for varieties. Use pieces that have some unifying common element. Brooches are like punctuation marks – use them wherever you’d like to draw the eyes. They are great on lapels and bodices to be sure, but can also add a delightful note to a shoulder, sleeve, waistline, the back of a dress, or even on a hat, purse, or soft boot.

Fourth, wear your brooches in your hair. Use hairpins to fasten one (or more) into your hairdo, or attach a series of starburst brooches onto a ribbon and wear it woven into your hair.

Fifthly, Brooches can be functional, too. Use a large brooch to pin a shawl or scarf or to fasten a cardigan sweater.

Sixth, don’t forget to pull out grandma’s jewels and give them new life. For inspiration, check out photos of the movie stars of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, who knew how to do glamour in a big way.

Seventh, remember that brooches look great whatever your size and shape – the perfect pick-me-up for days when you’re feeling less than your best.

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