This is beyond a doubt the most enormous comet brooch I've ever seen: 3 inches tall, more than 2 inches wide and set with layers of sparkling crystal. With a bit of caution, it could become even more dimensional, since the "rays" of the mounting are malleable.
The "Made in Austria" stamp on this beauty tells us it was produced for the export market and that it can't have been crafted prior to 1919 (when the end of WWI dissolved the old Austro-Hungarian Empire). At that age, it could still be a reference to the dazzling 1910 appearance of Halley's Comet, but my guess is that some later comet prompted it, or just comets in general. There were six famous ones in the first 27 years of the 20th century, alone, not to mention the minor examples.
As you'd expect of an Austrian piece, the rhinestones here are of glorious quality. We can't know if all are original, but there are no obvious problems. The metal appears to be silver-plated and it still reads as white metal rather than the underlying brass, despite age-appropriate losses that magnification reveals. Both the extent of surface wear and the white-on-white look suggest an Art Deco dating -- no later than the early 1930s, which makes it antique by American 75-year standards. To me, the 1920s are more likely, based on the type of hinge and clasp and a pinstem that shows evidence of having been shortened (a common and sensible practice after ladies gave up heavy underclothing and their extra-long brooch pins began to draw blood). Provenance is a West Coast estate.
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