One of my favourite book series when I was growing up was Anne of Green Gables. For those who are not familiar with them, the books are about a young orphan girl with red hair called Anne Shirley who goes to live with a middle aged brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla, on Prince Edwards Island, Canada. The couple has requested a boy to help with the farm but were sent a girl instead. The 8 book series, first published in 1908, covers Anne’s life from childhood through to marriage and motherhood.
A dramatic scene in the first book is when Marilla thinks that Anne has stolen her amethyst brooch.
Chap 13 – Marilla wore her amethyst brooch to church that day as usual. Marilla always wore her amethyst brooch to church…That amethyst brooch was Marilla’s most treasured possession. A seafaring uncle had given it to her mother who in turn had bequeathed it to Marilla. It was an old-fashioned oval, containing a braid of her mother’s hair, surrounded by a border of very fine amethysts. Marilla knew too little about precious stones to realize how fine the amethysts actually were; but she thought them very beautiful and was always pleasantly conscious of their violet shimmer at her throat, above her good brown satin dress, even although she could not see it.
Recently, I purchased the amethyst mourning pin pictured at the top of the post and it reminded me of Marilla’s much-loved brooch. Her brooch was oval while mine is not, but it does have a central compartment containing braided hair, surrounded by a border of beautiful amethysts.
The amethysts, which are foiled, are a beautiful deep purple and make the mourning pin very striking. It is easy to see why someone would treasure such a brooch and wear it for formal occasions.
Love this! I think I’ve only read the first book, and it was a long, long time ago.
Now I’m wondering about other jewellery in fiction (aside from obvious ones like Tolkien’s Rings of Power.
Thanks Jonathan. I have another one I am going to write about but would love some suggestions, Margaret
I’ve not read The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins, which is actually about a diamond. I only know about it because the book is often listed as ‘the first detective novel’.
I have read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1957) by Alan Garner, but so long ago I can hardly remember it. I know I loved it as a kid.
Flashman and the Mountain of Light (1990) by George MacDonald Fraser is a fictional story about a real gem, the Koh-i-Noor. That doesn’t really seem to be in the spirit of things.
Flicking though Gigi (1944) by Colette just now, I came across this passage, which I thought you would appreciate, given your interest in treatments.
“From the age of twelve, Gigi had known that Madame Otero’s string of large black pearls were ‘dipped’ – that is to say, artificially tinted – while the three strings of her matchlessly graded pearl necklace were worth ‘a king’s ransom’: that Madame de Pougy’s seven rows lacked ‘life’; that Eugénie Fougère’s famous diamond bolero was quite worthless; and that no self-respecting woman gadded about, like Madam Antokolski, in a coupé upholstered in mauve satin. She had obediently broken her friendship with a school friend, Lydia Poret, after the girl had shown her a solitaire, set as a ring, the gift of Baron Ephraim.”
Hi Jonathan, thanks for the quote. I am actually planning a post on fake pearls so it is perfect, Margaret
May I ask if the center has a glass over a piece of woven hair, thus it is a mourning pen . & how did they get the hair inside.
Hi Diane, yes, the central compartment with the hair is covered by glass which would have been added to the brooch after the hair was included, Margaret