Antique Victorian Fancy Colour Diamond and Ruby Bee Brooch
A very fine Victorian bee brooch set with an eye-catching array of various fancy-coloured and white diamonds. The thorax and abdomen adorned with cushion-, oval- and round brilliant-cut fancy-coloured diamonds, such as fancy pinkish-brown, fancy intense orange-yellow, fancy purple-pink, and grayish-yellowish green. The wings further set with old cushion- and rose-cut white diamonds. Eyes set with cabochon rubies. All mounted in silver on gold. The measurements: 4.5 x 3.2 centimeters (=1.8 x 1.3 inches). All coloured diamonds GIA-certified. Circa 1890s.
Queen Victoria ruled for an impressive sixty three years and was the longest reigning British monarch before the current Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her. During this long period (1837-1901), fashion, and subsequently the accompanying jewellery, frequently morphed to keep up with social changes. During the early years of Victoria’s reign delicate repoussé metal-work framing a locket containing a treasured lock of hair was typical of the Romantic sentiment of the Queen and the nation in the early years of her marriage to Prince Albert. In contrast the jewellery after Albert’s death became austere, with large stones of sombre colours or cameos were placed in heavy settings. Then in the last years of Victoria’s rule jewellery transformed again, becoming lighter and smaller as practicality and affordability superseded ornate aristocratic tastes with the increased leisure activities enjoyed by women in the growing middle classes. The design of brooch clasps is a particularly clear example of this change: from a single pin on a simple ‘c’ clasp to more elaborate safety mechanisms.
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