Trend Watch: Brooches – Part 2: Creative Clusters

There has been a series of trends suggesting that if one of something is good, more is better. We’ve seen this with necklaces and bracelets in particular over the past year. As more and more women are discovering and collecting brooches, the multiples trend has reached these jewels too.


Among the designer lines that have been actively promoting brooches are Chanel, which pictures them worn in great abundance pinned along the sides of a jacket and on handbags, and Marc Jacobs, who has even showed brooches placed at the hip.



[Pearl duck pins by Marc Jacobs pictured in 9/07 Glamour; photo by Patrick Demarchelier.]


If trying one brooch might seem a bit “intimidating” to those who have never enjoyed this pleasure, as Vogue noted in its September 2007 issue, wearing more than one may, at first, seem to be even more daunting. How can a wearer choose two pieces that work well together, especially when the selections carried by retailers may be more limited than those available in other categories of jewelry such as necklaces or bracelets?


The answer lies in finding common design elements. These might include commonality in such factors as:


  • Type of metal
  • Color of metal
  • Fineness of metal work
  • Design technique (for example, the style of settings or metal work)
  • Color of stones
  • Fineness of stones (for example, raw or rough cut versus polished)
  • Motif (often seen with collections – for example, flowers or animals)
  • Overall shape of brooch
  • Compatible shapes that work well together (for example, highly geometric pieces)


Generally speaking, the more commonality of design elements, the better the pairing. For instance, platinum and silver are both white metals. However, a pin of fine platinum work is unlikely to pair up well with a courser design of sterling silver. But two silver brooches with a similar level of refinement of work but very different character may work well together.


Without a doubt, there is a subjective element to pairing brooches. Use your own inventory to consider which pairings or clusters of your brooches might work and why. 


Two versus three? The answer is largely a matter of scale. If there is a large area to be adorned, three or possibly even more brooches (remember the Chanel example) can work together. A cluster of three brooches or two larger ones may be in perfect scale for a tall or full-figured customer. However, the more glitzy the adornment, the rarer the person who can carry it off. The jewelry should support and complement the personality of the wearer.



[Brooches by Apprecia Fine Jewelry; photo by Satu.]


For someone with a smaller amount of area to adorn, two modestly sized brooches worn together can be aesthetically pleasing. It is not necessary to use three pins clustered together to get a lot of fashion impact. With two brooches, they can be worn a couple of different ways. Either they can be arranged symmetrically, on either side of a neckline a la 1940’s-style dress clips, or they can be positioned close together. Worn close together, the two brooches can be of different sizes, with one brooch dominant, or of similar size. Two identical brooches worn together is another great look. (See the Plum Sykes photo, below, for yet another variation—two nearly identical brooches created in different colored stones worn together.)



[Photo of Plum Sykes wearing a pair of Oscar Heyman gardenia brooches from 9/07 Vogue; photo by Dane Shitagi.]


Three brooches can be used either in a cluster, or in a straight line, usually heading up and out toward a shoulder. One of my favorite looks is a constellation of snowflake or starburst-shaped brooches of various sizes. Adding an extra starburst or snowflake brooch on a hat or purse or in the hair can be a delightful way to extend the beauty of the brooches even more.

Show your customers that wearing multiple brooches together is an interesting stylistic option. If you carry some versatile smaller pieces in your inventory, they just might provide that extra bit of panache that can expand your customers’ jewelry wardrobes and multiply the versatility of brooches your customers already own.

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