Brooches used to be an important part of a woman’s jewellery collection. They looked superb on the bodice of a satin evening gown, on a ribbon worn high around the neck and, more recently, ln a little Chanel-style jacket or a blazer. Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, had a large collection of brooches and pins, some valuable, some costume. But unless you need to wear a suit for work, we have moved to more informal outfits and the brooch has lost popularity.

While some brooches were designed to be worn as either a brooch or a pendant or as part of a necklace, most were designed as single use items. It is such a shame, though, not to use these brooches in some way, particularly the larger ones which are usually quite spectacular but which tend to hang or droop when worn on a lightweight material.

One way to convert a large brooch into a pendant but to preserve its clasp and pin so it could still be worn as a brooch is to add some loops to the back so that a chain could be hooked on at each side. The gorgeous garnet and pearl brooch measures 7cms across and weighs a hefty 40 grams. A chain can now be hooked onto its back and it becomes a rather magnificent pendant. It can easily revert back to being a brooch.

Victorian garnet and pearl brooch/pendant

Other conversions which choose to keep the pin and clasp fittings use the small loop at the back of some brooches which were intended to attach the safety chain. The Georgian shuttle ‘eye-shaped’ brooch in the photo at the top of the post had a loop added in this way.

The early Victorian brooch below has also had a fixed bale added at the top of the piece so that a chain can be added.

Loop added to back of pendant to allow it to be worn as a pendant

Some alterations to brooches remove all fittings. The next items are two matching antique gold brooches with rope loops and tassels. These have now been converted into earrings with posts and butterfly clasps. They hang well from the ears and are not too heavy but are very striking.

Antique coiled earrings with tassels, converted from brooches