Blast From the Past: Halley’s Comet in Jewellery

September 14, 2010

Don’t forget to watch ABC’s The Collectors at 8pm on Friday night (will be posted on iView later), but in the meantime enjoy this little repost from earlier in the year. AOM has a larger readership, so now is a good time to bring back some information for those that haven’t been through the archives:

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 centrepiece as a love token or memento, but more commonly, emeralds, diamonds, paste or other gems were used to create the centre of the comet and accentuate its tail in gold work (often with another gem in the back).

You can spot the older pieces by the 1830s elaboration to the gold work (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.

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