History of Diamond Brooches and Pins

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by Suzanne Sachs  5 min read

Vintage Clover Leaf Brooch


A brooch or pin can be a stunning focal point to any jewelry ensemble, and these amazing accents have a long and glamorous history in jewelry fashion. But what are brooches and pins, and how have they changed through different fashion eras?

What You Need To Know--

About Brooches and Pins

While brooches and pins are very similar, pins are generally considered more functional fasteners, while brooches have more decorative appeal. Brooches are usually larger than pins, and may have more of a horizontal or lateral design. Pins, on the other hand, are often figural and can be a wide array of shapes and designs, from simple stickpins to more whimsical designs. Brooches tend to be more elaborately styled, and may even seem to be miniature works of jewelry art or sculptural designs. Today, however, the terms “brooch” and “pin” are often used interchangeably.

Ancient Pins

The use of pins to fasten furs, hides, or cloth together is an ancient practice, first using natural thorns or sharp shards of flint or bone. As metal refining became more commonplace in the Bronze Age at roughly 3300 BC, however, metal pins became much more widespread, and pins have been found in all historical
eras. In approximately 750 BC Celtic and Viking populations used pins as cloak fasteners, and pins were highly functional through medieval civilizations in Europe, as well as in other cultures around the world. Over time, more pin and brooch designs have become fashionable and stylish, and different jewelry and historical eras all feature some type of pins and brooches.

vintage diamond pin

Pin and Brooch History

Pin and brooches have always been a part of jewelry fashion for both men and women, and the favored styles of these ornaments have shifted with different jewelry trends. During the Renaissance period (1300-1600), for example, elaborate brooches featuring precious gemstones and pearls were popular, particularly in religious shapes or to show religious ranks. In the early 1700s, mourning and memorial brooches were popular, and often featured a deceased loved one’s name and the dates of their birth and death. These brooches could also include a lock hair or other keepsake of the loved one.

In the late 1700s and into the 1800s, more elaborate aigrette brooches were all the rage, featuring real feather plumes that fastened onto hats, veils, or hairstyles for extra flair. This was part of the Georgian era, when such elaborate styles were popular in all types of jewelry.

As the Victorian era evolved in the late 1800s, cameo brooches featuring relief carvings of gods, goddesses, or other figures were a popular trend, as were locket-style pins and brooches similar to mourning brooches. During this time and into the early 1900s, “grand tour” brooches were also popular keepsakes among the social elite who took pride in extended holidays throughout continental Europe, collecting brooches and pins from distinctive destinations to showcase their travels. Another popular trend during the Edwardian period of the early 1900s was “love” brooches, more romantic designs given by soldiers to the loves they left behind as they entered service during World War I. These brooches often featured lace-like filigree patterns or designs that incorporated bows, ribbons, and swags.

In the 1920s and 1930s, pin and brooch fashion evolved with the Art Deco period and featured more abstract, geometric designs with bold pops of color. These accents were popular as dress clips to be fastened to the shoulder or straps of dresses for personalized flair. Geometric and futuristic shapes continued to be popular through the 1950s with mid-century styles. 

Art Deco Diamond Brooch

Wearing Brooches Today

Today, pins and brooches are available both as stunning jewelry pieces as well as costume jewelry. These accessories come in a nearly limitless array of styles, designs, and sizes, featuring precious gems, pearls, and different metals. Vintage pieces that evoke bygone styles are even more desirable, and pins and brooches can be combined and repositioned to create stunning looks for any occasion. Popular ways to wear pins and brooches include…

• In a hairstyle or attached to a headband, hair clip, or hat

Along the neckline or on the side of a jacket or blouse

On the waistline or hip

Trailing up a sleeve or on the shoulder

As a pendant

On a purse or clutch

There is no wrong way to wear a stunning pin or brooch, and different styles can easily be combined for a customized and changeable look. No matter which era each piece evokes or how it is worn, a pin or brooch is sure to be a statement piece for a distinctive and elegant look.

Antique Pins For Everyone:

No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.

Find The Perfect Diamond Brooch:

Antique diamond rings are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and design. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of antique and vintage pins today.


Suzanne Sachs

Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. She ultimately started VintageDiamondRing.com in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.


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