This romantic gold bar brooch, featuring pearl-studded stars and a pearl-studded crescent moon, was a gift from Edwin Stephen Rouse (1849-1931) to his fashionable wife Eliza Ann ‘Bessie’ Rouse (1843-1924) for Christmas 1886. Edwin Stephen bought the brooch on Christmas Eve 1886 from Hardy Brothers, goldsmiths and jewellers of Hunter Street, Sydney. In Victorian times seed pearls could symbolise tears when used in mourning jewellery but pearls could also be used to convey a personal message celebrating love. Edwin and Bessie has been married for 12 years in 1886 and had two young daughters, Nina born in 1875 and Kathleen born in 1878. A portrait of Bessie by Sydney photographers Freeman & Co shows her wearing the brooch attached to a black velvet choker and dressed in stylish evening attire with a black bodice festooned in net. Bessie’s father William Buchanan had died in March 1885 so perhaps the dress, and the brooch on the choker, are examples of the elegant reticence that black costume could represent for a woman of Bessie’s age.
HR93/201-1:2 + R88/45 [photograph]