Most jewelry wearers and admirers are familiar with brooches and pins, but might not be as familiar with the intricate and historic world of stickpins.
These tiny little works of art that spanned time from the 1800’s to the 1940’s are a collector’s delight.
A stickpin is a straight, sharp pin with a decorative ornament at the top. Larger and longer ones with zig-zag grooves on the pin were used for either thicker material or for hat pins. A lot of attention was paid to the detail of these tiny pieces of jewelry.
Stickpins were originally worn by gentlemen in the 1800’s to decoratively secure a cravat or a necktie in place. By the turn of the century, Victorian women were wearing them as often as men, sometimes in hats, or in multiples on jacket lapels, even while bicycling, sailing or playing tennis. Many were attracted by the variety of decorative themes.
As fashion and function changed with the times from Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts and Art Deco, so did stickpins. Stickpins themes were whimsical; they depicted nature, flowers, bugs, animals, hunting, mining, artists, tools, mythical creatures, geometric, architecture, air crafts, boats, astrologic and societal organizations. They were set with gemstones from rose–cut to modern-cut diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, turquoise, carved cameo and intaglios of coral, shell, bloodstone, agate, moonstone, and labradorite and inlaid with the very collectible gold-in quartz (see below).
Examples of the rare techniques lost and not commonly seen today including painted rock crystal quartz reverse intaglios (bulldog), micro mosaics and Pietra Duras. Some featured or were enhanced by polychrome enamels. Stickpins were made of gold, sterling silver, silver-topped gold, platinum and mixed metals, each a tiny work of art. They were manufactured throughout the world by well-known international designers such as Cartier and Napier, recognizable US designers such as Tiffany & Co, as well as fine and creative goldsmiths and craftsmen throughout this time
Today stickpins are worn singly or in groups of similar themes or in random groupings. You too could wear a miniature work of art on your lapel. The diversity may entice you, their intricacy may surprise you and the joys of ownership may addict you.
If you’re interested in starting your own stick pin collection check out the large selection coming to auction at
Clars Auction Gallery on November 19th.