Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Warriors’ “Bravery” Brooch of Diamonds, 1750

Rose-cut Diamonds Set in Silver
Western Europe, 1750
Given as a trophy.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Extravagant diamond pieces were not reserved exclusively for ladies prior to the Nineteenth Century. Men often wore opulent jewels not only as adornment, but also as symbols of their station. Going into the Nineteenth Century, Royal gentlemen (such as Prince Albert) continued to wear gemstone badges and brooches, but the practice fell out of favor with people not associated with royalty. Pity.

This diamond brooch from 1750 is a good example of a gentleman’s piece of jewelry. Made in Western Europe, the brooch contains dozens of large rose-cut diamonds set in silver. The design is based on military weapons—a canon, pistol, arrows, axe, flag and plumed helmet. Such a piece was given to a man as a symbol of his bravery and as a trophy of battle. He would wear it proudly to remind himself and others of his accomplishments.

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