Posted on: October 21, 2019

The Brooch is back! The resurgence of the brooch at auction

As brooches continue to achieve fantastic prices at auction, jewellery specialist Helena Waudby discusses their resurgence in popularity and why now is a great time to sell.

Brooches have certainly struggled at auction over the last few years. This is largely due to fashion; no matter how beautiful the piece, bidders would always say ‘it’s beautiful – but I just don’t wear brooches!”  The value of a brooch compared to a ring or a pair of earrings of the same style and component parts could be quite surprising, and often it was the case that a brooch would be bought to be broken down for its scrap materials.

However, it now seems that the brooch is having a comeback moment, achieving some fantastic hammer prices as a result. This again is owing in part to fashion; brooches have been making an appearance on the catwalks of big designers for the last few years, and many celebrities and public figures have been sporting them – Queen Elizabeth is rarely seen with out one, and president of the supreme court Lady Hale made headlines for her now infamous spider brooch back in September.

As an accessory they certainly have a universal appeal. They are an easy way to show the personality of the wearer or to make a statement. They’re also incredibly diverse and can be popped on to any garment, be it a scarf or blazer. Moreover, brooches are very adaptable – many antique examples come with additional pendant fittings meaning they can be put on a chain and worn as a necklace. But even those without loop fittings can be taken to a jeweller and have them added on easily and relatively inexpensively. Buyers are seeing brooches for their potential and how they might be adapted into another accessory to suit their individual tastes.

What’s selling well at auction?

There and styles and designs of certain eras that prove more popular than others. Anything Art Deco will be sought after among bidders. The geometric designs of the 1920’s and 1930’s are highly distinctive, and often they incorporate high quality metals and precious gemstones. This art deco style plaque brooch for example, comprising sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, achieved £800 at auction. As with any piece of jewellery, names can have a huge impact on value. Some of the more popular designers of the era include Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Left to right: Art Deco Brooch sold £800, Victorian Crescent Moon Brooch sold £1300, Belle Epoque Brooch sold £2600

Victorian brooches can be found in abundance in any vintage jewellery collection, but certain motifs can perform very well; crescent moons and stars are among the more popular styles at auction, usually set with seed pearls, or precious stones such as ruby, sapphire or diamond. For example, this diamond crescent which sold for £1300, and a diamond and ruby set example selling for £950 in our October sale.

A very popular style toward the end of the 19th century was Belle Epoque, meaning ‘beautiful age’ – this encompassed all things delicate, floral and lavish! Pieces of the era are finely crafted and make for timeless pieces of jewellery. Two such examples, a diamond an emerald set brooch and another diamond example each achieved £2600 this year at auction. Georgian jewellery always catches the bidder’s eye for its rarity.

A popular style of the era was known as ‘en tremblant’ meaning ‘to tremble’ – these pieces comprising delicate suspended motifs which were designed to literally tremble as its wearer moved and capture the candlelight at a dinner.

For a free appraisal on your jewellery, drop in to one of our valuation days held every Monday and Friday. Alternatively, you can book a 1-2-1 appointment with jewellery specialist Helena Waudby on 01948 800 202 or email