Submitted by jays on 22 January 2014 - 11:08am

There are several mysteries about this elegant enamelled gold brooch, beginning with its date and original owner. It is believed to have belonged to Hannah Terry Rouse, nee Hipkins (1819-1907) of Rouse Hill House, and to have been acquired following the death of her husband Edwin Rouse in 1862. The brooch, 2.5cm in diameter, certainly has the appearance of a mourning brooch, with a central onyx encircled with a band of black enamel set with seed pearls, denoting tears. The pearls are also ‘colourless’ and therefore appropriate for mourning but the onyx is polished to reveal a narrow band of white in the black and the combination of white and black was fashionable in Victorian times, representing a form of elegant reticence for married women of a certain age. Mourning brooches of this kind would usually have a glass back containing a lock of the loved one’s hair. There is no such compartment on this brooch but there is evidence that the back has been remade and the safety pin is definitely a later addition. Perhaps the original back was replaced because the glass had broken?

Photograph: Jamie North, 2013
Rouse Hill House & Farm
A circular gold and black enamel brooch set with central dark banded onyx and eleven seed pearls around circumference. A circular gold and black enamel brooch set with central dark banded onyx and eleven seed pearls around circumference. A circular gold and black enamel brooch set with central dark banded onyx and eleven seed pearls around circumference. A circular gold and black enamel brooch set with central dark banded onyx and eleven seed pearls around circumference. View of the back of a circular gold and black enamel brooch. Made in Europe, circa 1870. A circular gold and black enamel brooch set with central dark banded onyx and eleven seed pearls around circumference.
Portrait
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HR101/21