The largest brooches During Victorian times were displayed on capes and shawls, as the clasps and pins were large enough to hold the heavier fabrics. The designs on these large pins were borrowed from traditional Celtic and Scottish folk jewelry; kilt pins, for example, were most often seen adorning pieces of Highland dress.
This stunning kilt pin combines the form of a heraldic shield with the engraving of the heraldic emblem of Scotland, the thistle. Although the design of the large heraldic shield was often repeated in many of the larger kilt pin, there remained an aura of romance surrounding them as both themes expressed time-honored national sentiment.
The large Cairngorm in the center is glass made to resemble the brown or yellow varieties of quartz found in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. Because the demand was so great for Scottish silver jewelry, many pieces were made for the tourist trade; many of these substituted glass for stone to moderate their cost.
Many of the Victorian kilt pieces were unmarked silver. This piece is genuine silver, although not marked. It tested for me as silver.
The brooch has a wonderful scalloped edge that sets off the convex shield shape quite well. The engraving of the thistles is very finely done, with a profusion of leaves in between the thistle design. There is a heavy original pin in the back with a large hinge and oval catch. The hinge is in excellent condition and the catch does its job nicely.
The brooch is in excellent condition, especially considering its age and type. Highland fashion was well underway by the mid part of Queen Victoria’s reign, especially after she visited the International Exhibition of 1855 in Paris. Victoria was said to be the “center of splendor in her dress of Royal Stuart tartan as she arrived at the entrance” of the Exhibition, according to the “Morning Post” newspaper. (The Post was a conservative London newspaper that existed from 1772 to 1937.) It is likely that this wonderful example was produced during the period immediately following her appearance in Paris.
With its huge shield-shaped silver canopy, its exceptionally large Cairngorm/glass, its fine engraving of thistles surround the central stone, its wonderful scalloped edging and its impressive appearance, this piece will make a bold fashion statement on whatever article of clothing you wish to place it.
It measures 3 inches in diameter with a faceted cut Cairngorm/glass insert of 1-1/8 inches.
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