A beautiful Victorian vulcanite brooch, approximately 2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. When people see a black brooch from the Victorian era most jump to the conclusion that it is a form of mourning jewelry, but in the case of vulcanite this is not the case. Vulcanite was very fashionable as something to be worn every day. It was once considered a technological marvel and collected because it was so innovative for the time. This brooch dates from circa 1870 and depicts the strong influence of the Aesthetic Movement, making this a highly collectible piece. Since the Aesthetic Movement lasted only from 1860 to 1900 and was not embraced by the masses at the time, relatively few items are available in this style.
It is in good antique condition as shown in the the photos. It has a C clasp typical of the period. The tip of the pin on a C clasp was intended to be woven back through the fabric after attaching it to clothing to form a safety lock.
Vulcanite (also sometimes called "ebonite") was made by combining and heating sap of the Euphorbia or Ficus trees from Malaysia with sulphur. Invented in 1843 by Thomas Hancock, pieces made of vulcanite were almost always molded, not carved, and it was used mainly in making jewelry. (Gutta percha was almost never used in jewelry and is often confused with vulcanite). As vulcanite ages it often fades to a soft sepia brown, but the original black luster can be restored by gently applying mineral oil with a Q-tip, if desired. Some people prefer the faded patina which can only be obtained through the passage of decades. This brooch is in the original glossy black finish.
•Fine jewelry authenticated by a GIA Gemologist
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