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Gold & Silver Brooch with Large Emeralds & Diamonds
Spanish Colonial or Spain
length: 8.3cm, width: 4.7cm, weight: 55g
This large and spectacular brooch (alfileres) is of silver, with large, table-cut emeralds, all in gold mounts, and a large table-cut diamond and other smaller
diamonds. The diamonds and emeralds are set over scrolling foliate and floral branches intended to look like a massed, floral twig or perhaps even a posy.
The brooch has been constructed in several parts that have been screwed atop each other, giving it a three-dimensional quality, and in an asymmetrical way
reminiscent of rocaille design. The back has been gilded and engraved.
The brooch is large and might have been intended to have been worn in the hair as a coiffure jewel, or perhaps was worn interchangeably (Muller, 2012, p.
158). As Muller (p. 157) says, 'jewels for eighteenth century women were planned to gratify an obsession for glittering illumination of the figure from coiffure to
footwear.' Many jewels were decorated with both diamonds and emeralds, both at court and among the nobility.
The brooch might have been made in Spain or in colonial South America for the Spanish market. South America was the source for the diamonds but more
particularly the emeralds which quickly gained popularity in Spain. The form of the brooch spread in popularity and can even be seen as an antecedent for the
kerosangs or brooches worn by the localised Chinese or peranakan women of Java and the Malay Peninsula of the 18th and 19th centuries in place of
The brooch here is in excellent condition. All the stones are intact and there are no repairs.
Lee, P., Sarong Kebaya: Peranakan Fashion in an Interconnected World 1500-1950, Asian Civilisations Museum, 2014.
Muller, P.E., Jewels in Spain 1500-1800, The Hispanic Society of America, 2012.
Provenance: UK art market
Inventory no.: 3155
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