Brooches 01.03.2010

Halley’s Comet in Jewellery

Recently, I’ve been thinking of the previous time that Halley’s Comet passed us all by (9 February 1986 for all you kids out there) and this reminded me of that fascinating style of jewellery known as the Halley’s Comet pin or brooch.

On 16 November 1835, Halley’s Comet passed by an caused a phenomenon in jewelley. Just like the Georgian Eye, it captivated people and spurred on a style of sweeping back jewellery that still has elements used today.

Often, hair was used in the centerpiece as a love token or memento, but more commonly, emeralds, diamonds, paste or other gems were used to create the center of the comet and accentuate its tail in goldwork (often with another gem in the back).

You can spot the older pieces by the 1830s elaboration to the goldwork (usually in the tail), with later pieces being less embellished and more streamlined. This continued until pins started to take on more of a straight bar shape.