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The brooch is back

In the form of popular culture pins to be sure, but it’s the bejewelled pieces we’ve got our eyes on.

There are few lovers of jewels who don’t have a brooch or two among their favourite pieces. Long the lair of an older generation of women who love to adorn a hat or coat with the likes of a marcasite flower or emerald-eyed owl or lizard, brooches are making a comeback, and this time in haute joaillerie circles. Of course, the beauty of the brooch, which has made a fairly consistent appearance on the high street (and was most beloved by Victorian-era dandies) lies in its versatility and the chance for its bearer to showcase their personal style. Whether it’s used to dress up a gown or coat, it’s bound to draw the eye. But 21st century ‘it’ girls are showing their love for brooches in other ways too, by bejewelling their hair and shirt collars, drawing attention to the waistline with decorative pieces and, of course, as a deliberate juxtaposition of high and low fashion – the combination of denim and diamonds never looked so good.

The brooch is back
Graff Peacock Brooch.

In the past few years, Europe’s most prolific jewellery houses have been experimenting with new takes on this traditional form of personal decoration, and with glittering effect. Leading the charge is Graff’s extraordinary $100 million Peacock Brooch. Designed in 2013, it is a 120-carat diamond creation with one of the world’s rarest blue diamonds at its heart. A longtime fan of flora and fauna designs, Graff has also created a series of bird- and insect-inspired brooches, many of which show off the brand’s trademark ability to show movement and life in inanimate objects. Their 23-carat pink-and-white diamond Flower Brooch is a graceful celebration of colour and cut.

Likewise, brave jewellers Bulgari are embracing the brooch, and in a thoroughly modern manner. One can only but wonder if their latest Gelati Jewels collection of ice cream-shaped brooches, with a distinctive ‘nibble’ missing  from the corner, is inspired by pop culture’s current pin obsession, much of which relates to street foods, from doughnuts to tacos. Either way, it’s a wonderfully delicious surprise.

Parisian maison Chaumet has always looked to the corners of the globe for inspiration, and this year collaborated with Kenyan artist Evans Mbugua for their vibrant ‘Trésors d’Afrique’ collection. Mbugua designed six pieces for the house, including the whimsical Espiègleries lion brooch (pictured left) that features a textural yellow-gold mane and sapphire-encrusted body – just ready to pounce from the lapel of a jacket.

As for Cartier, they’re one of the world’s most favoured brooch designers and so loved by royals. Their 1938 Rose Clip Brooch was a favourite of Princess Margaret’s, while the Duke of Windsor famously commissioned the Flamingo Brooch for Wallis Simpson’s birthday in 1940.

Equally famous is the Panthère de Cartier brooch, a striking micro-sculpture featuring the brand’s emblematic panther, a veritable confection of 579 diamonds, emeralds and onyx set in white gold. Its design denotes a distinctive nod to the past yet there is no doubt it is destined to be adored and worn by forward-thinking fashion lovers for many years to come.

And that is the beauty of the brooch. Its relevance and ability to charm new generations of fans is seemingly timeless. And long may that notion last.

This article originally appeared in Issue 41 of Private Edition.

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