The bar brooch is one of the most common form of brooch in antique jewellery. Basically, a bar brooch is any elongated horizontal brooch. The Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry defines it as: a type of brooch in the form of a horizontal bar with decoration along its length or with gemstones or a decorative motif at the centre and gemstones at its terminals’.

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Antique gold diamond bar brooch

In ‘Understanding Jewellery’, Bennett and Mascetti noted that the simplest form of the bar brooch was a plain gold bar set with a single diamond but that some were ‘decorated¬† with crescents and stars, sprays of leaves and flowers, pheasants and chanticleers, swallows and flies, shamrocks and clovers’ (p230).

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Sweet little gold bar brooch with seed pearl set swallow (in Navette on Ruby lane)

Although examples of bar brooches started to appear in the 1870s, they became very popular in the 1890s and remained popular for the next 20 years, along with half crescent, starburst and insect shaped brooches.

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Antique diamond set wolf head bar brooch

Most of these pieces were intended for day wear and often several were worn at the same time.

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Victorian gold bar brooch with pearl set stars (in Navette on Ruby Lane)