Different Types of Brooch Styles - Illustrated Guide

02/05/2021 255 0 0

Brooches have been worn for centuries and have been having a resurgence over recent years.  Our illustrated guide covers the different types of antique and vintage brooch styles.


Celtic brooches were a style of brooch developed in Early Medieval Scotland and Ireland. The penannular brooch, a very common type of ancient Celtic jewellery, was representative of the Celtic brooch style. Typically the brooches were made using iron, bronze or copper alloy and comprised of a ring with a pin placed centrally across the diameter. The Celtic jewellery makers were known for their inventiveness and the complexity of their  craftmanship and design. The Tara brooch is a famous example of a Celtic brooch.

Mid 19th century pennaular brooch silver gilt   Alexander Ritchie 1927 Celtic brooch    Malcom Gray Ortak Celtic style silver brooch   

L to R:  Mid 19th century silver gilt penannular brooch,  Alexander Ritchie 1927 Celtic brooch,  Malcolm Gray, Ortak Celtic style brooch

VICTORIAN BROOCHES                                    

Victorian era brooches ( during the reign of the British Queen Victoria 1837-1901), comprised different types of brooches. In the early years of Queen Victoria's reign locket brooches, flowers, cameos, hearts and animals were popular brooch styles. After the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1861, mourning brooches were in fashion. The mourning brooches were somber  with heavier featuring materials such as black onyx , jet and black enamel.


The art nouveau jewellery era covered the period from 1895 to 1905 and was a reaction to the heavy sombre style of the Victorian era .  The style flourished throughout Europe and the United States until the advent of the First World war. Brooches of the time were  characterised by free flowing sinuous line, and featuring natural forms such as flowers, fauna,  insects and the female form. Enamel, including  plique a jour enamel (which let the light shine through the piece) was a common feature.  

Plisson et Hart Art Nouveau enamel pearl pendant         Art nouveau pearl drop brooch     


The Edwardian Period of jewellery (1901-1910) followed the death of Queen Victoria. Platinum began to be used in jewellery allowing the creation of delicate filigree jewellery intended to look like lace or silk. Diamonds, coloured gemstones, and pearls featured in the brooch designs and they were typically set in white gold or platinum. Small brooches were popular and came in different forms such as bows, swags, garlands and ribbons .All of these brooches displayed the delicate new style.


The Art Deco era covered the period from 1920 to 1939. Art deco brooches often had abstract designs with linear geometric lines , taking influence from Cubism and art from India and Egypt. Common materials used were carnelian, lapis, black onyx, quartz and coral, as well as  typical gemstones such as sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

  Silver art deco style brooch    

L to R : Diamond and sapphire art deco brooch, silver art deco style modernist brooch, emerald and diamond art deco brooch 


Luckenbooth brooches are traditional Scottish brooches and were given as romantic tokens of love. They were usually silver and heart shaped with one or sometimes two entwined hearts with a crown above. The hearts symbolised love and the crown symbolized loyalty. The name “Luckenbooth” came from the small secure booths in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from which they were sold.. Early Luckenbooth brooches dated from the seventeenth century and were traditional gifts given by men to their sweethearts upon marriage. They were considered lucky charms protecting the wearer from evil. During the 18th and 19th centuries Luckenbooth brooches became larger and more detailed. From around 1850’s the two hearts were made to resemble the letter M and were called Mary’s brooch in reference to Mary Queen of Scots who had been given one by her husband Lord Darnley.  Generally Luckenbooth brooches today come in the form of two entwined hearts and are made of silver. Victorian Luckenbooth brooches were decorated with gemstone , often featuring  garnets as these were thought to bring luck to in affairs of the heart.

1850's Luckenbooth brooch silver    

L to R:1850's silver luckenbooth brooch, Victorian gemstone luckenbooth brooch, 


A bar brooch is an elongated horizontal type brooch . Bar brooches first appeared in the 1890’s and quickly gained popularity  Early bar brooches of the Victorian age featured a simple bar with a central plaque or motif. Edwardian bar brooches were often set with a line of diamonds, pearls  or coloured stones in millegrain settings. Art deco bar brooches were similar to the Edwardian style but had a geometric type design.

        Bernard Hertz amber silver bar brooch

L to R: Victorian gold bar brooch, Edwardian silver and diamond bar brooch, and Bernard Hertz art nouveau amber bar brooch


Enamelling is a very old technique which has been used in jewellery making since the 18th century. The enamel material is created by fusing powdered glass to a substrate such as metal at high temperature. . Enamelling can been seen on many antique and vintage brooches (from ancient times through to modern day) where it has  been used to create vivid areas of colour as a contrast to the gold or silver base metals. 

Late Victorian diamond, pearl and enamel brooch      Tony Michael Holland enamel brooch

L to R: Late Victorian diamond, pearl and enamel brooch, Norwegian guilloche enamel brooch and Tony Michael Holland enamel and silver brooch 1991


En tremblant” is a French term – meaning “to tremble”. En tremblant brooches were popular in the late 18th and early 19th century before the invention of electricity. En tremblant brooches usually had a floral design and often featured old mine cut or rose cut diamonds. The centre of the flower design was attached to a thin wire mechanism that allowed the brooch to tremble. Brooches mounted in this way created movement and were particularly good at reflecting the candlelight of the time.

     Coro Tulip Trembler brooch

L to R: Antique diamond en tremblant brooch,  French 19th century en tremblant flower brooch , and Coro tulip tremblant brooch 1927


Aigrette brooches were very fashionable in  the seventeenth and 18th century and then again in the 19th and 20th centuries. They were generally feather-shaped and set with garnets or  flat-cut diamonds in silver settings. They were often  very detailed, with tiny detailed birds flying around the plume, and could be worn as a hair accessory.


L to R : Victorian diamond feather aigrette brooch, diamond aigrette brooch 1890, and 18th century garnet aigrette brooch.


In the late 19th century the typical European holiday for the upper classes was the Grand Tour. On their journeys through European cities  such as Rome, Florence and Venice,  tourists bought brooches as souvenirs of the trip. Typically the brooches depicted pictorial scenes, ancient Roman architecture or flowers, birds, or animals. The Grand Tour brooches were created using mosaic inlays. Semi precious stones such as lapis, aventurine, turquoise and malachite were precisely cut and fitted together to create motifs or scenes on a dark background. Micro mosaic techniques were used to create miniature flowers, floral bouquets and landscapes.


Above: Victorian Grand Tour micro mosaic brooches, centre - Grand Tour petra dura floral brooch


Norwegian Solje (SOL-ya) brooches are traditional Norwegian jewellery brooches dating back several centuries to ancient times.The word SOL-ya means sunny or shiny. In older times they were handcrafted in silver and other precious metals. They were a type of buckle or pin that a women would use  to secure a ribbon around her collar. Typically they were worn with the National Costume. As the years went on each region of Norway developed different style of Soljes. The design would include hearts, flower drops and tears. The rear of the pin would generally be a circular scalloped piece or sometime a heart. They varied in size from small to up to 10cm in diameter.  Solje pins were thought of as heirlooms and passed down through each generation.


Double clip brooches were originally created by Cartier in 1927.  A double clip brooch was a pin backed setting for a pair of dress clips, to allow the clips to be worn either as two separate jewels or together as one brooch. They were worn as fastenings on dresses at the neckline, and also  as decorations on jackets, handbags, shoes and hats.  Coro became the first costume jewellery maker to offer a dress clip in the form of the Coro “Duette” clip. This became a great success for the firm. Other firms such as Tiffany’s, Trifari and Marcel Boucher created their own version of the double clip.


Tags: Different Types of Brooch Styles - An Illustrated Guide

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