This superb handmade antique brooch is a museum-worthy example of Arts and Crafts design and workmanship. Acquired about 35 years ago for my personal collection, it came from an antiques dealer in London and may have been made there. The quality is certainly up to London standards; however, Scotland is also a good possibility. Gems of this color often feature in Scottish jewelry and the bold form has a rather Mackintosh look, especially those elongated petals. Although one would expect a signature on a jewel of this refinement, many of the best Arts & Crafts pieces weren't signed.
With apologies to the purists among us, I keep this beauty lightly polished with a jeweler's cloth, so its details aren't buried in patina. If that got too dark and heavy, we'd lose sight of the fine hammer strokes and other textural features of this treasure. Its size is quite substantial - about 2 by 1 3/4 inches - and of course it has the old T-hinge, open C-clasp and thick elongated pinstem indicative of great age. The gorgeously cut stone sold to me as a topaz could conceivably be a cairngorm; I haven't felt enough curiosity to find out since it's a stunning natural gem, either way.
Opening the private vault isn't something I do often, but this deserves a more public life than I lead now. Besides wearing it in the usual ways, try it pinned to a ribbon as a choker necklace or headband -- or decorating a hat or a purse. The styling possibilities are just about endless.
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