Tassels and fringes are used for decoration in interior design, on clothing, particularly ceremonial clothing, and, of course, for jewellery. They have been used on jewellery for a long time. Jewellery with tassels, mainly earrings and necklaces, has been found from 4th century BC Asia Minor and artwork exists showing Egyptians and Romans wearing tassels. The Etruscans wore fringed earrings.

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Victorian gold earrings with fringe/tassels, original box

What is a tassel? It is an ornament comprised of cords, metal chains, beads, or other strands hanging from a roundish knob or cap, and used on clothing and for jewelry. Fringes are usually gold or beads and are often graduated rows with a pointed drop. They can also circle a piece like the earrings above, Jewellery with tassels and fringes are lovely to wear; they swing on the ear and are quite carefree. Tassels may be attached to  the end of a necklace or chain and make a real statement.

Tassels have been used on jewellery for centuries but they were very popular during the Georgian period when chatelaines were first worn. Later, in the Victorian period, Albert chains for men and the more decorative Albertina chains for women were used to hold watches and fobs and other necessities, with tassels attached. Brooches with tassels spanned the entire 19th century. Earrings, pendant and brooches with fringes were extremely popular in the 1870s in England.

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Victorian gold brooch with tassels (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

The Edwardian period saw tassels being added to necklaces with swags, bows and garlands, and pearl tassel earrings were popular. Sautoirs, which were long ropes of pearls or beads finished with a tassel or a pendant, began to be worn, and were to continue well into the Art Deco period, as slim line dresses with dropped waistlines became fashionable.

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Antique Australian gold tassel fringe brooch

One of the problems with tassels and fringes is that they can get damaged very easily and many antique brooches originally made with either have had them replaced or removed. You can look at the back of some brooches and see where the fittings have been removed.