Beguiling ornamental brooches


Polymer Clay Abstract-Brooch---by-Bettina-Welker

‘Abstract Brooch’ — -by Bettina Welker from series The Place In Between

via Polymer epiphany


Brooch/pin adornment


Brooch jewelry artists are always presented with the challenge of limited size & weight, while maintaining strength, which can lead to clever minimalist creations and miniature pieces of fine detail that are fascinating as a compact mobile sculptural art. Brooches probably peaked as a fashion accessory during the Art Nouveau and Deco eras, where the iconic Nouveau curves and Deco geometrics easily adapting to the limited size. Up to the 50‘s, Brooches were still popular where they became more kitsch in comparison, and some modernist pieces appeared in the 60‘s and 70‘s but as fashion became more streamlined and casual, they eventually fell off the fashion accessory radar.

Maybe with rebranding or if Apple came up with a pin-on “brofone”, interest in this fashion accessory might receive a boost. However, as it wouldn’t be that pragmatic for taking a selfie, which in itself would be a statement of good taste, its desirability would be compromised. But then again it would be useful for heart monitoring, hands free photography and a flashing beacon for a bike rider, but hardly a fashion statement.

The original brooch was purely functional and originated in the Bronze Age where they were carved from bone, wood and materials like tortoise shell, to be used as a pin to secure pieces of clothing attire like a cape. During the Iron Age they eventually became more ornate, especially after they were forged from metal and had jewels added, evolving into items of decoration. In the colder regions such as Scandinavia, they were larger in size as the clothing was heavier and they became bold fashion adornments, sometimes containing spiritual motifs and symbols and they were quite often discoidal in shape. From the Sixth to the Tenth century, during the Byzantine era, enameling was introduced with more vivid colours and detail. These brightly colored brooches found their way along the trade route to as far as Britain and Europe.

I have been noticing for awhile on sites like etsy that the emergence of new lighter composite materials and polymer clays have rekindled interest in brooch designs. Although brooches now are rarely regarded as a mainstream fashion item, they still feature as an accessory for more formal outfits, with some contemporary, elegant designs featured below.


Alan Ardiff,-Irish-jeweller.-One Fine Day -brushed metal brooch with bird motif

‘One Fine Day’ – Alan Ardiff, Irish jeweller.




An-Art-Nouveau-gold,-diamond-and-enamel-brooch,-by-Eugène-Feuillâtre,-French,-circa-1900 Egyptian Revival

French Egyptian Revival brooch – Eugène Feuillâtre

circa 1900



erte-gold-and-black-enamel-diamond pin

Typically elegant Erte gold and black enamel Art Deco pin



Ann Dillon polymer clay abstract brooch

Polymer clay brooch – Ann Dillion



Art Nouveau pearl diamond, enamel-and-18K-gold brooch-pendant

Art Nouveau pearl diamond, enamel and 18K gold brooch pendant



Disk Brooch--early-7th-century Anglo- Saxon made in Faversham

Disk Brooch–early 7th-century Anglo Saxon made in Faversham





Askew Rectangular Bug Brooch Pin, London




Levinger & Bissinger – Jugendstil Art Nouveau Brooch attributed to Otto Prutscher





‘Eyebright’ – Beppe Kessler Brooch




Kathleen-Dustin--Tribal-Pin-in-Green contemporary polymr clay brooch

‘Tribal Pin in Green’ – Kathleen-Dustin




Bijou Art déco et Avant garde – Jean Després, pendent/pin

1932_Brant Foundation, Greewich,





French Art Nouveau Twin Stork pendant/brooch in gold, garnet and pearl

c. 1900



Eugène-Grasset-pour-la-maison-Henri-Vever,-'Poésie'--French brooch

“Poetry” brooche by Eugène Grasset for the house Henri Vever

Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris





Ceramic White Tara, Kwan Yin Little Face Original by Jill Taylor





Daniel di Caprio, Ebony and Silver, Vessel Brooch





Chinese Silver, Enamel and Coral Carved Pin

Early 20th Century




‘Earth+Sky Brooch’ by Tory Hughes




Egyptian Revival Nekhbet Brooch- Silver & plique a jour enamel.

Circa 1925




‘Night Owls’ brooch – etsy Baubukas





Art Nouveau plique-à-jour enamel, diamond and pearl brooch

circa 1900



Egyptian-revival-brooch - enamel, metal, turquoise

Egyptian Revival brooch

Collectors Weekly





‘Head of the Gorgon Medusa’ –  Late 19th Century Czechoslovakian brooch, gold, jasper, and crystal





“Fire Fly” Custom Handmade Pin with Diamonds, Pearls, Onyx, 18k



Pearl and diamond Jarin-Blackamoor-Brooch-Ruby-Lane

Pearl and diamond Jarin Blackamoor Brooch





Musee-d-Orsay---Eugène-Grasset,-pour-Maison-Vever,-'Apparition'-broche - Art Nouveau faces pin

Eugène Grasset, pour Maison Vever, “Apparition” broche

Ivory, repoussé gold, cloisonné enamel translucent and opaque, topaz cabochons

Musee d Orsay— 1900




Owl-by-Ahlene-Welsh - sterling silver, brass, bronze, nickel, 14k gold

‘Owl’ by Ahlene Welsh

sterling silver, brass, bronze, nickel, 14k gold, 1990

The Ganoskin Project



Art Nouveau Jugendstil Silver Adolf Mayer Pendant





Art Nouveau pendant composed of gold, diamonds, carved amethyst and baroque pearls, circa 1900.




Pickney Creations head brooch - etsy

Head Brooch by Pickney Creations – etsy





Porcelain Flower brooch – Nausika





Art Deco Templier face brooch




Ruffle-Brooch-by-Elise-Winters contemporary jewellry

Ruffle Brooch by Elise Winters



Tova-Lund,-brooch-contemporary brooch

Tova Lund sculpture brooch





triangle-pin-by-Carol Beal -contemporary style jewellry

Carol Beal polymer clay brooch





Nardi large Gem set Onyx Coral diamond Gold Blackamoor Brooch



Very-oceanic-looking..Organic sea life inspired clay brooch - Jana Roberts Benzon

Organic sea life inspired clay brooch – Jana Roberts Benzon




50’s Vintage Elzac Brooch African Tribe Head Copper Ceramic Lake Breezes




Voodoo-Queen-Laser-Cut-Wood-Brooch wearable art Hungry Designs-etsy

‘Voodoo Queen’ – Laser Cut Wood Brooch wearable art

Hungry Designs-etsy

QLD, Australia



Vintage-Lady-Pin Art Deco flapper

Art Deco/Jazz Age brooch




Art Nouveau pendant House Vever (Paul and Henri)





Egyptian Revival turtle scarab brooch




Mid- Century Deco style abstract hand painted gazelle brooch





Vintage Silver pewter Tribal Tiger Brooch Pin  – -Signed JJ




lea-stein-deco-cat brooch

Art Deco cat pin – Lea Stein





Polymer pin – Two landscapes, one rural and one urban, bisected by a bold zigzag – Dan Cormier – La Peñita, Mexico





‘Watery Deep’ –  Oxidised contemporary brooche by jewellery designer Dot Sim





Enamelled brooch/pendant – Ricky Frank



Found-on-klimt02-net-Guntis-Lauders-Silver,-topaz,-mammoth-bone,-blue-coral - modernist queen with umbrella

 Guntis Lauders  – Silver, topaz, mammoth bone & blue coral brooch

 klimt02 net





Opal pin/brooch —Patrick Murphy

with abalone, tanzanite, pariaba, spinel, and diamonds





Brooch by Latvian contemporary jewellery artist Guntis Lauders.





Aaron Macsai ‘Monet’ brooch Gold, diamond and opal.





Alishan Jewelry Designs ‘Akoli’ brooch/pendant –  18k yellow gold, sterling silver, ebony wood and Tahitian Black Pearl.

Akoli symbolised African thumb knife.




Erica Druin-Enamels brooch

Erica Druin Enamels




Eleanor-Moty-contemporary brooch

Eleanor Moty

Studio Jewelers





Contemporary Layered Brooch- Jessica Briggs





‘Lightness of Being’ by Eve Llyndorah Design  Brooch, 18k gold, opal doublet, pearls, diamonds





Lindy Darty – Garden Badge Series





 ‘Feeding Desire’ – Mary Hallam Pearse,brooch




Tory Hughes---Seacliff-Brooch - ocean inspired underwater design turquoise, blues, gold and sliver

Captivating ocean inspired underwater design –  Tory Hughes— ‘Seacliff Brooch’




Multiply'-brooch-by-Lund Tova

‘Multiply’ – Tova Lund




Striped Opal pin-pendant – Sydney Lynch




Cusheen---Carly-Wright silver and enamel elegant brooch/pin.

‘Cusheen’ – Carly Wright, NY

The one-of-a-kind pieces are inspired by the fractured and sedimentary layers of rock cliffs, and glacially produced marks on the rocks.To increase the luminosity and brilliance of the enameled colors, gold foil will be placed underneath the enamel powder before it is fired, creating a sense of depth and vibrance in the finished pin. They can be are fired upwards of thirty separate times in the enameling kiln.

Carly Wright Gallery



Sydney-Lynch----contemporary gold and opal brooch

‘Cortez Mabe Pearl’ pin/pendant; Sea of Cortez pearl, champagne diamond, grape garnet oxidized sterling silver

Sydney Lynch





‘Collaboration with a Bird ll’ – Teresa Faris

Sterling silver, wood altered by a bird, stainless steel




‘Kaleidescope’ brooches – Sheila McDonald





‘Trine’ brooch by Eleanor Moty, 2002.

Sterling silver, 22K gold, rutilated quartz and topaz.




Red and gold_brooche_Sheila-McDonald

Sheila McDonald




Angela-Gerhard---brooch---contemporary enamel

Angela Gerhard





Black-Throated Clue Warbler Pin’  Ali Wieboldt

Acrylic on deer antler, sterling silver, 14k gold, druzy, psilomelane, blue topaz, opal





Barbara Patrick





Art Nouveau Jesters Brooch – Rene lalique




shemyasa-angel by Kiltpins

Silver ‘Shemyasa Angel’  brooch





Paisley-Brooch gold circular brooch

Paisley Brooch Kiltpin

Edinburgh Hallmarked Silver made to celebrate Paisley’s 500th year.
HM Queen Elizabeth was presented with same brooch in 18ct yellow gold.

Kiltpins From Brenda





‘Shooglenifty’ silver brooch by Kiltpins



--Michael-Boyd-contemporary-brooch raku ceramic with green gemstone and sliver

Michael Boyd




Deb Karash





Lilly Fitzgerald opal and gold snake brooch

Hand built and cast 22kt pin set with black opal and diamonds – Lilly Fitzgerald.

Of all the ancient myths about gemstones, none endure like the superstitions surrounding opal. The bad-luck opal myth isn’t really ancient. It comes from 19th-century fiction. For centuries, opal was considered a lucky talisman. In ancient times, when most gemstone myths were born, you find glowing reports. Arabs believed opals fell from heaven in lightning flashes, and anyone possessing such a divine relic could consider himself safe from harm.





  1. Posted September 25, 2015 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoy and appreciate these blasts of inspiration, Robbie. Thank you

  2. Amy
    Posted January 28, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Hi there,

    I’m just wondering if you can help me. I’m trying to track down the ‘Head of the Gorgon Medusa, Late 19th Century Czechoslovakian brooch ‘ for my dissertation but cannot find anything about where it was actually from or where it is currently housed. Where did you find out your information about it? I can only find pictures on tumblr and Pinterest and neither of those are useful.
    Thank you for your time.

  3. Judith Kuppersmith
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Always so thrilling and inspiring —-one of my favorite things to do is look at your
    posts. Thanks again.

  4. robbie
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Thx, it’s great to hear that.

  5. Posted August 19, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Robbie, can’t believe you put my Paisley pin up there. I actually feel abit embarrassed . However I am also chuffed that you did it. It’s so funny as I did that brooch about 20 years ago in 18ct gold for the Queen ( commissioned by Renfrewshire council, not her in person) to celebrate Paisley as A towns 500 years of existence . Anyway I thought all interest in this range had died away. But last month Paisley Abbey gift shop got in touch to order the whole range ! As you say timing.
    I do feel however that now I want to create something new, that can maybe come up to the standard of the other brooches you have on your site. Thanks for the push I hav been needing. Did you have a look at my Shooglenifty kiltpin? If you like it or Infact any of the contemporary ones I would be delighted to gift one to you. Thanks Brenda. Just let me know.

  6. Sheri Montrose
    Posted November 17, 2016 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love the Art Nouveau pendant House Vever (Paul and Henri)
    was wondering if she is for sale… Or if you have any other Fairy esc type Broaches pendants, that you sell?

  7. Tycho von Rosenvinge
    Posted August 6, 2021 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Great selection of brooches. Thanks. I have admired the work of Sydney Lynch, Carly Wright, Elise Winters, Eleanor Moty, and others for a long time.

  8. kjersti
    Posted May 12, 2022 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi! The pin that you have labeled “Fire Fly”, I saw that pin on another site with different information on it. They called her “Volier”, the graceful dancer, by Thomas Owczarzak, it said that the pearl is a special cultured Biwa pearl from Japan, etc.. How confidant are you that she’s called Fire Fly? Any help you could give me trying to figure out which information on this beautiful pin is correct would be greatly appreciated! Thank-you!!

  9. Robbie Hood
    Posted May 13, 2022 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I’m not absolutely certain that Firefly is the correct name for this piece.

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