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My Beloved: 18th Century Witch’s Heart Brooch

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By the 18th century the symbolism attached to the traditional witch’s heart as a protective amulet shifted in meaning. The token was now given as a sign of love and affection and brought with it the implication that the giver had become “bewitched to fall in love” with the recipient.

Petite in proportion yet imposing in significance, this openwork witch’s heart brooch with its left curve is crafted of 9k rose gold. The perimeter is channel set with almandine garnets and a crown of the same gems with a small round almandine garnet surmount rests atop a large teardrop faceted almandine garnet. Both of these gems are set in rub over collets.

Date: Circa 1790.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length by 11/16 of an inch (1.7 cm) in width. Weight of 2.0 grams (1.3 dwt).

Condition: Very good; top garnet has a surface chip; later date “C” clasp base has a reinforced connection to heart; tube hinge has later pin fitting.

Origin: Most likely English or Scottish.

Historical Notes: The witch’s heart dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The design of a heart with a point that curved to the right or left was given to a loved one as protection from evil. In the later part of the 17th century these simple silver decorative pins were found in Scottish folk jewelry. Tiny examples were often pinned to a baby's wrap as protection. Often the brooch was hidden in the petticoats of children who were deemed particularly susceptible to harm from “evil spirits” or fairies.

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