Superlative Victorian Cut Steel Brooch
Cut steel has been a part of jewelry history since the mid 1700s. Although the name implies longevity, the material itself is rather ephemeral and frequently did not survive the centuries as steel is difficult to polish and can rust if mishandled. Initially, it was fashioned into jewelry to imitate the sparkle of diamonds but soon became a rage unto itself. It was especially popular from the 1850s until the end of the century.
Some of the most intricate jewelry made, the method is quite laborious and requires a certain skill level in which a metal base (typically brass) is pierced with holes and a separate piece of cut steel riveted in place.
This particular brooch is very bright and in top condition for cut steel. A modified pampille design, the pear shaped drops form a stylized cascade of articulated dangles. Superb in its construction, the brooch incorporates an unusual variety of shapes including the briolette configuration (an elongated pear shape with triangular facets) for the steel cut beads.
Date: Circa 1860.
Measurements: 3 inches (7.8 cm) in length by 1-3/4 inches (4.5 cm) in width. Weight of 16.7 grams (10.7 dwt).
Condition: Excellent; later hinge and pin stem of base metal.
Origin: Most likely European.
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