Three layers of golden carved horn are joined together in this wonderful Victorian brooch. The diamond-shaped bottom layer has carved fluting around the edges to create an elegantly shaped base; on top of this is a smaller diamond carved with waves; the final layer is a five-point star with incised lines to catch the light. The layers are capped by a small amber finial atop a pin that is part of the structure holding the layers together. A second rivet, holding the bottom two layers together, can be viewed from the bottom and also when the brooch is held to the light. The brooch has its original "C" clasp and pin.
The surface of the brooch has the luminous, slightly iridescent sheen characteristic of horn jewelry and is part of what makes it so special. According to Ginger Moro in "European Designer Jewelry", "Bull or mountain goat horn...was sliced, heated, bleached, carved (and) polished...by hand...Horn slices were soaked in hydrogen peroxide for translucence, then bathed in chemicals to give a shimmering sheen". The result is as fresh and glowing today as it was in the late 19th century.
Size: 2-1/4" (58mm) long x 1-3/8" (35mm) high. The three layers of horn plus the amber bead rise 1/2" (13mm).
Age: circa 1880
Condition: Excellent antique condition. There is a shallow natural fissure on the back of the brooch which does not extend through the bottom layer of horn and appears to be original to its manufacture. I've taken a side view of the brooch showing that this fissure does not extend deeply into the horn but is near the surface of the back.
Luminous Victorian Carved Horn Brooch