New V&A ‘Brooches and Badges’ Book Belongs in Your Library

No doubt that brooches are clearly having a moment. Which makes the recent publication of Brooches and Badges (Thames & Hudson), a book in a series that focuses on the Victoria & Albert Museum’s world-famous jewelry and decorative arts collection, perfectly timed. It’s also a handsome addition to any jewelry collector’s library, especially one who favors this particular category.

In a store setting, the book would also look really good in a window, case vignette, or countertop display, styled with a selection of your brooches and pins.

The fourth volume in the ongoing V&A series on accessories (see also: RingsBags, and Shoes), the brooches-and-pins installment explores the evolution of these intricate works of art and how changes in dress have dictated their use.

“The history of the brooch, and its design, are inseparable from the history and design of dress,” writes V&A curator Rachel Church in the book’s introduction. “Brooches began their life as practical garment fasteners, and their use has risen and fallen as changes in fashion have made them more or less wearable. From the earliest years, jewelers and goldsmiths took this necessary dress fastener and turned it into a work of art.”

From medieval pilgrim badges and Renaissance hat decorations to jeweled brooches and 20th-century political pins, brooches and badges are often more than practical or decorative dress fasteners; they are expressions of identity.

Here’s a peek at some of the goodies highlighted in the book’s pages. (Consider picking up a copy if you visit the museum, where a blockbuster exhibit on the fashion of Christian Dior is wrapping up in September.)

Giovanni Corvaja brooch
Brooch in gold and platinum, Giovanni Corvaja, Italy, 2000
17th c gold enamel diamond brooch
Brooch in gold, enamel, and diamonds, possibly France, c. 1620-30
Andrew Grima brooch
Brooch in gold, platinum, lapis lazuli, turquoise and diamonds, Andrew Grima. London, c. 1967-8
Bird brooch in gemstones and diamonds
Brooch in gold, platinum, yellow, and colorless diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, France, 1940-50
Freshwater pearl brooch
Brooch in gold, freshwater pearls, diamonds, and demantoid garnets. USA, c. 1900
Coral platinum diamond brooch
Brooch in platinum, coral, stained chalcedony, and brilliant-cut diamonds. Europe or USA, c. 1920-30

All images © 2019 Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Top image: From left: Brooches with brilliant-cut diamonds in silver, Europe, c. 1760; brooch in gilded metal, textile, and glass, Laurent Rivaud, London, 2001, Royal College of Art Visiting Artists Collection; brooch in shell, gold, emeralds, and diamonds, carved by Paul Victor Lebas and mounted by Félix Dafrique, France, 1851; Brooches and Badges cover courtesy Thames & Hudson.


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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