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Donald Barry Woodrow
©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

A brooch is designed to be pinned to a jacket or dress, usually at breast height and it can take different forms such as flowers, stars, snakes and bows. Brooches of every description were particularly popular in the nineteenth century. This brooch consists of several ‘sprays’, hence the name ‘spray brooch’. The three parts can be hooked together, but they can also be worn separately. Depending on the impression the wearer wants to make, she wears one, two or all three parts. Nineteenth-century jewellery was often designed to be multifunctional and transformable. This brooch is made of silver laminated on gold and set with numerous small brilliants. The flowers on the two spray elements are mounted ‘en tremblant’. This means literally ‘trembling’ and refers to delicately quivering flower heads. The vibration of the springs and the layer of silver serve to heighten the fire and brilliance of the brilliant-cut diamonds. The brooch is a good example of the naturalistic style in vogue during the second half of the nineteenth century. Flowers and plants had been a source of inspiration for jewellery designs since antiquity and during the nineteenth century they became a very popular theme. The expansion of the middle classes boosted consumption and drove innovation in areas like jewellery design. The growing interest in botany and gardening at the beginning of the nineteenth century and the import of exotic species following the introduction of the greenhouse influenced the veristic style of jewellery and the popularity of the botanical theme.