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Why antique and vintage brooches are back in vogue across the world


Celebrities love them, the Queen adores them and our jewellery buyers hanker after them - brooches are back in vogue.

And yet there was a time, when they were seen as a little old-fashioned, an unnecessary accessory, perhaps.

As children, many of us first saw them attached to an elderly relative’s chiffon scarf, pinning it together at the neck or, perhaps, fastened to the side of a jacket, a look the Queen likes.

You may even have memories of playing in granny’s jewellery box and pulling out brooches in all manner of styles.

Eclectic and diverse, they often featured a selection of colourful gem stones, real or otherwise, a painting, pattern or design.


But, for a while at least, they fell out of fashion. Not anymore. Antique and vintage brooches are sought after and we have seen some impressive results at auction.

For example, a Belle Epoque pearl, enamel and diamond set brooch featuring an enamelled portrait of a lady in the pre-Raphaelite style was fiercely contested to £500 at auction. Also, a Victorian enamelled fox head painted brooch in an 18ct gold mount sold for £370.

We can trace the history of brooches back to Celtic times. Utilised as cloak fasteners and worn by Celts and Vikings, the first Celtic brooches were seen in the Early Medieval period in Ireland and Britain and feature a long pin attached to a ring.


In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, brooches were a flexible friend. They could be added on to a necklace for evening wear or worn as a pendant during the day.

That flexibility – aligned with their whimsical beauty – is why antique brooches are so sought after today. They can be worn in the hair, on the neckline of a dress, adorning the waist or even on the back of a plunging gown.

In days gone by Hollywood movie legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford aired their brooch flair. Today, people like Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman rock the look.


Whatever your style, we have some wonderful vintage and antique brooches in our March jewellery auctions, both contemporary and classic designs. However, we would love to see more, together with all manner of jewellery, from rings, diamonds and bracelets to pendants and beads – particularly amber beads.

We have a tremendous team of jewellery experts here at Hansons. Every Tuesday, consultant jewellery valuer David Byrne is with us from 9.30am-4.30pm, our head of jewellery Helen Smith is available most days, including from 10am-4pm on Fridays, and TV jewellery and silver expert Kate Bliss is a monthly visitor at Hansons. She will be doing free jewellery and silver valuations at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on April 5, 10am-4pm. So dig out those jewels and bring them for valuation – a new lease of life awaits them.