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Jewelry That Speaks to You and Speaks For You: A Few Words from Sarah Churgin on the Elegance & Eloquence of a Beautiful Brooch

Since ancient times, brooches have been symbols of political and religious power – though largely on the breasts of men. By the Middle Ages, they were in use by women as symbols of wealth, devotion, affiliation. Georgian and Victorian jewelry spoke in the language of (more) sentiment or mourning. Each flower, bird and gemstone was assigned a specific meaning. The colors green, violet and white symbolized a woman’s support for suffrage or displayed her interests.

In our time, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright starting using brooches as a means of communication after she was referred to by the state-controlled Iraqi press as “an unparalleled serpent”. She acquired a coiled serpent brooch and wore it to her next meeting with Saddam Hussein. Thereafter, her expressive collection of brooches grew to include hundreds of examples. A snail or crab might indicate impatience with a slow moving discussion; a hot air balloon, optimism.

Fashion forecasts indicate a return to the structured profiles of the 1940s and 1980s in women’s clothing. With this and Mme. Albright in mind, we present a selection of brooches from Rago Auctions December 6, 2010 sale of jewelry. Come to the preview, visit the sale online and see what speaks to you.


· Madeleine Albright’s brooch collection is on display at the museum of Arts and Design in New York City through January 31, 2010.

· Also recommended “Read My Pins, Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” a beautifully illustrated book on Mme. Albright’s collection from Harper Collins.

· Remember to remove your treasured brooch from a jacket or coat before handing it to coat-check.

· A small piece of 1/8” gauge foam from a sheet used for commercial packing will lend stability and support behind light or knit fabrics and put friction on the pin stem, preventing loss. (Available at Rago Auctions with our compliments.)


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