Brooch – Victorian Garnet Bar Brooch
An antique Victorian bar brooch¹ arranged as a wide kite-shaped boarder containing a collet-set pyrope garnet, green gold-coloured² leaves and yellow gold-coloured spherules and strap work. Secured with a pin and hook. Circa 1890-1900.
Assessment of the Garnet.
Cut: oval eight-main brilliant-cut crown over a step-cut pavilion.
Measuring: 6.45mm x 4.98mm x 2.52mm.
Calculated weight: 0.64cts.
Colour: dark reddish orange (7.5R.10/4).
Details of the Setting.
Measuring: 45.45mm x 14.92mm.
Unhallmarked: tested and valued as 9ct gold.
¹. Bar brooches appeared in the 1890s and immediately enjoyed a great success. In its simplest form the bar brooch was plainly set with a single diamond, but its functional shape offered the jeweller a field in which to exploit their fantasy and imagination, thus bar brooches were decorated with crescents and stars, sprays of leaves and flowers, pheasants and chanticleers, swallows and flies, shamrocks and clovers (David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti 'Understanding Jewellery', 1989).
². Gilding is required to bond gold to other precious metals. Traditionally, chemical ‘fire-gilding’ was employed – an amalgam of gold and mercury was applied with a brush, then the object was heated to cause the mercury to vaporise and to leave a thin film of gold. In the late nineteenth century, the safer method of electroplating was invented. This is a method of depositing a layer of gold by an electrical current, leaving a thin flash of gold. After certain guiding processes, the effect was enhanced by tooling-by incising the gold surface to create a design or textured surface. The coloured golds were created by alloying. A proportion of copper results in a reddish or pink colour, iron produces a light blue, and different shades of green are possible. Depending on the composition three shades were generally made: ‘vert de pré’ (Meadow gold), ‘vert feuille’ (leaf gold), or ‘vert d'eau’ (water gold).
³. “The name garnet does not refer to a single gemstone but rather a group of minerals which share similar chemical compositions and crystallise in the same system. The most commonly encountered are the reddish-brown stone, which although not rare can be very beautiful. The best examples, coloured red by chromium, are known as pyrope, and approximate the colour of ruby” (David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti 'Understanding Jewellery', 1989). “The term pyrope is derived from the Greek word πup, meaning ‘fire’, and Όπtouxi, meaning, ‘I see’. Varying in colour from slightly orangey-red to red, and on to violet-red as the iron from the almandine alters the hue position, pyrope can exhibit a very striking, bright fiery hue” (John D. Rouse, ‘Garnet’, 1986).