This wonderful antique brooch makes a powerful feminist statement, while being extremely elegant. We date it to Edwardian times, give or take a few years. A hint of Victorian Art Nouveau is evident in its curvaceous forms, but they also display the refined delicacy and airiness characteristic of Edwardian and transitional styles. As is appropriate for the period, the openwork setting is intricate and highly dimensional, rich with detail even on the back, and the fittings include quite an old type of hinge, an early type of safety clasp and a pinsteam obviously snipped at some point from the dangerous length associated with great age.
The brooch reached us from an East Coast estate, but most likely was made for export in Bohemia, which for centuries produced the finest simulated gems, as well as ornate and rather fanciful mounts that were widely prized. The area became Czechoslovakia after World War I, but was previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Here the centerpiece is a huge and gorgeous cabochon of faux-moonstone that echoes the jewel's overall shape (an oval measuring about 2.25" x 1.25"). Around the central stone are four round cabochons, two of faux emerald and two of faux amethyst. All appear original and are in great shape, as is the gilt filigree metalwork. The reverse shows only minor losses of finish and it takes high magnification to see any on the front. Suffragette jewels often survive in good condition, having been worn only occasionally (at meetings and when marching for the vote), but this one is truly exceptional.
As you know if you collect Suffragette jewelry, the unusual combination of green, purple and white had deep meaning for early feminists. For them, green represented hope, purple signified dignity and white stood for purity. The language we associate with "regard" jewelry applied, too: The "G" of green, "W" of white and "V" of violet comprised an abbreviation for Give Women (the) Vote. All this seems cryptic now, but was clearly understood by everyone in an era when messages were also communicated by which flowers you sent, how you held your fan and which corner of a calling card you folded down, if any. The wealthiest suffragettes mixed amethysts and pearls or diamonds with green stones such as emeralds or peridots, but pretend gems were naturally favored by the majority.
To the Suffragettes' efforts through many decades in the U.K. and U.S., we modern women owe that right, which was finally extended to all American women in 1920 and to all in Great Britain in 1928. Tucked away and forgotten for decades, Suffragette jewelry began rapidly gaining value when the movie "Iron Jawed Angels" appeared in 2004, revealing what the gals went through (including hunger strikes and beatings).
Wearing Suffragette jewels is a great way to show your pride and appreciation. I especially enjoy wearing mine during election seasons. Although we try our best to maintain a good selection, it's hard to keep up with growing demand, now that the genre has been rediscovered. If this particular piece speaks to you, it could be wise not to delay.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping and gift wrap is always free when desired. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!