While I was having one of the best Christmas holidays ever of all time in Calabria with my roommate Luisa and her BEYOND WONDERFUL family (EATING AND EATING AND EATING and listening to the sea and EATING), I was lucky enough to be shown these amazing pieces of costume jewelry, lovingly kept and almost perfectly preserved. Luisa’s great grandmother with the same first name, Luisa Broggi, was a famous Italian soprano, alive and kicking roughly one hundred years ago. The family house was originally built just for her, and old photos of Signorina Broggi remain to hang on the walls of the dining room. These pieces belonged to her.
This is a fabulously rare collection. Costume jewelry can almost be thought as temporary jewels, made from inexpensive metals, plastic pearls, and fake diamonds. Original pieces were of course made by hand and then cast or die formed to make duplicates, and although they are fake in the sense that the final pieces are non-precious, each piece was carefully assembled and tenderly designed. Time has honored and bestowed value to these “fakes;” One must now handle them carefully and delicately, just as though they were a far more genuine set of jewels.
Luisa and I tired to do some mild detective work. I am fairly certain that all these pieces were gold-plated due to the richness and consistency of the color of the metal. In some parts, oxidation surfaces. The most obvious indication that the pieces were inexpensively made, can be seen when looking at the backs; had the stones been real, they would have been prong-set so the light could move through each of them.
A simple ribbon was tied to complete the tiara below. Fabric was also sewn on the backside of the bottom row of fake diamonds.
This arm cuff is clearly die formed as you can see from the back, and the jewel embellished ornament is interchangeable!
The pearls below are thought to be tied around the waist. This one was a bit tangled, there is a better and more elaborate example of this kind of adornment to follow.
These we thought to be extremely large earrings, but because the backs were more clip-like, we weren’t sure at first. Just wait…
They actually are made to hang on either side of this crown. DROOL
The plastic pearls are sewn into place, and here we also can see some sneaking oxidation from the metal under the gold plating.
This set, with its own custom box, is probably real coral. Below is a hair comb, made of turtle shell. These two pieces are the only real “precious” pieces in the case. In love.
We couldn’t find any clues as to who the maker was, where or when these pieces were made. Any ideas?? Miss Broggi was a famous and well traveled woman.