During her long reign Queen Victoria set the fashion by wearing jewelry fashioned from stones and agates that were found in her beloved Scotland. And with her purchase in 1847 of her Scottish castle, Balmoral, the popularity of all things Scottish soared. British examples of this sweeping fashion are to be seen in the novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell. In her novel, “Cranford” (1851), set in the Cheshire village of Knutsford, one of the characters, Miss Pole, was wearing no less than seven pebble brooches. (I’ll be watching for this myself the next time I view the BBC television production of “Cranford.”) This jewelry was often called “Scotch pebble jewelry” because the stones were often found as pebbles in rivers and along their banks.
“Plaid” brooches received its name from the way in which the agates were set; that is, they were set in rectangles and squares to mimic the tartan plaids of Scottish costumes. This brooch has the plaid effect cross-wise in various types of agate. The agate was placed in a simple setting that resembles a painting frame. The piece dates to the late 19th/early 20th century. “Plaid” brooches are considered difficult to come by.
The colors of the stones complement each other yet provide enough contrast for the “plaid” pattern to emerge. The mount is decorated with a series of plain bars separated by scroll-like engraving.
Although in excellent condition overall, the center stone has a surface scratch. However, small surface scratches are common in pieces of jewelry that were worn every day and handled frequently over their lives of over 100 years. The hinge is tight and in good working order.
It measures about 2-1/2 inches wide by 2-1/8 inches high.
A similar example of this brooch can be found in the book by Diana Scarisbrick, “Scottish Jewelry: A Victorian Passion,” on page 38.
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