Stick a pin in it
Country Life UK|January 08, 2020
Baroness Hale’s sparkling spider took the internet by storm–and rightly so. The chameleons of the jewellery box, brooches are versatile, glamorous and prized by royalty. Now, they’re back in vogue
Matthew Dennison

THE stone that, in 1769, Franz Michael Diespach set among cascades of brilliant-cut diamonds for Frederick Augustus III of Saxony was the largest, most beautiful green diamond in the world: the 41-carat Dresden Green. The elector wore the glittering brooch in his hat.

Brooches have glamour. They are visible and conspicuous, as became clear in the recent response to the spider-shaped brooch worn by a black-clad Baroness Hale the day she delivered the Supreme Court’s verdict on parliamentary prorogation. Within 48 hours of Lady Hale’s verdict, a fashion-data website reported more than 400 online articles and social-media posts about it. Inevitably, the fashion fraternity hailed the return of the brooch.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper—as Mr Salter invariably responds to his formidable employer in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop when his agreement is anything but wholehearted. For a handful of prominent women—The Queen, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—the brooch never disappeared. For many other women, brooches play little or no part in their wardrobe. Once a staple, they are associated with a more formal style of dress and, undeniably, with former generations, a grandmotherly accessory. In the second decade of the 21st century, the number of ruling princes sporting jewelled hat badges has reached an all-time low.

Reactions to Lady Hale’s sparkly spider— more Hogwarts than court ball—suggest that the time has come to think again. ‘When things are thought fubsy and old-fashioned is the very moment when fashions change,’ explains doyen of jewellery experts Geoffrey Munn. ‘Once out, the brooch now has the opportunity to be very much in.’

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