A host of objects evoke eras and they're delightful, but when an item evokes a particular moment in history, it's incredibly exciting to me. It's like a time machine!
Climb aboard this early modernist brooch and you're in 1930 -- or at least the immediate neighborhood. Stylized feather and fern leaf brooches were the latest and greatest -- done up in platinum and diamonds by the likes of Suzanne Belperron, whose work is well-chronicled and deserves to be, but also produced for ordinary mortals with far more adventurous taste than cash to indulge it.
For the example here, our dating comes not only from records kept in the halls of grandeur, but also from plain history open to all. Look at the colors of these stones -- green, white and violet, as in "Give Women the Vote" -- and remember that it was in 1928 when the last group of Englishwomen (those without property) were enfranchised. This achievement remained a big cause for celebration as the decade turned -- particularly since there wasn't a whole lot to be celebrating immediately after the Crash of '29.
Now please join me in picturing the first owner of this brooch: a highly modern miss, indeed, and a Suffragette surely. A persistent Suffragette, since voting was fait accompli for most women soon after World War I. That's why Suffragette jewelry nearly always looks Victorian, Edwardian, transitional or Early Deco. And that's what makes this piece very special.
Of course it's also special for being just wonderful. A towering plume or assemblage of fronds (whichever you see) -- more than 3 1/4 inches tall -- it gleams like new, so the metal must be rhodium or chromium (hard-wearing cousins of platinum, albeit far cheaper). The graceful mounting is set with three green and white tigers' eyes that could almost pass for real, plus three faceted amethyst pastes. Weight is 10.3 grams (51.5 carats) and provenance is a Midwestern estate.
That the brooch is in fantastic condition isn't really surprising, since Suffragette jewels were generally tucked away fondly after a few years' use. The color scheme doesn't exactly go with everything -- but what a lot of fun somebody's going to have with this!
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