23K Gold, Carnelian, & Pearl Medieval Cloak Brooches -
Personal Commission

Index Price: DISPLAY ONLY - POA.

I've been involved in Medieval Re-enactment for a number of years and this feeds into my love of beautiful functional items as well as purely decorative jewellery. A few years ago I decided it was time to find another way to fasten my cloak as my large penannular brooch was rather out of period.

I'd long been fascinated by the large gold cloak brooches which appeared to somehow hold a band or cord to fasten the cloak. What I couldn't find out was how the front edges of the cloak could be drawn together, since logic suggested that the cloak hanging open might be pretty to look at, but wouldn't do much to keep out the cold. Various effigies and paintings show women with their finger hooked over the cord across the chest, so I speculated that perhaps there was a draw-cord mechanism. Eventually I found a passing reference to this (I'll post when I find it again) so I decided to go ahead and make a set.

Note: the construction is purely speculative, since images almost never show the reverse side. Also, I would now make the bezel settings differently having done more research into the raised 'petal' bezel.

The brooches are constructed from Copper. On the front are raised bezel-set Carnelians, foil-backed to improve the play of light. (This was standard practice until modern gem faceting and open settings were introduced.) On the reverse are loops to attach the brooches to the cloak and short tubes through which the cord can pass.

I would have loved to make them from pure Gold but budget wouldn't allow! Instead I used an ancient cold-gilding technique and covered the fronts with 23K Gold leaf. The freshwater pearls were mounted after the gilding was completed. I'm happy to report that the brooches work well!

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