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A Little Piece of Scotland has a unique range of antique and modern Scottish, Irish and Norse Jewellery.

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Antique Scottish bracelet - 'pebble jewellery' -agate, and 'cairngorm' stone (smoky quartz), set in sterling silver (SS)

Vintage Norse brooch - Viking warrior and dragon: SS

Irish contemporary penannular brooch of traditional style and motifs: SS set with cabochon-style precious stones

Antique Scottish pebble brooch, knot-shaped, SS mount with agate and cairngorm

Classic Norwegian brooch: 'The Escape of Hakon Hakonnson': SS

Classic Norwegian brooch with sea serpent motif: SS

Classic Norwegian brooch with pastoral scene: SS

Scottish brooch - contemporary design by Sheila Fleet of Orkney Isles - silver with blue enamel - runic alphabet motif

Antique Scottish pebble brooch - SS set with agate and cairngorm

Scottish brooch - Shetland Isles - by Kenneth Rae, in SS, depicting the Three Nornes

Scottish brooch - Orkney Isles - by Ortak - thistle motif

Norwegian brooch by contemporary artisan Elise Thiis-Evensen of Porsgrunn

Norwegian brooch by contemporary artisan Elise Thiis-Evensen of Porsgrunn

Scottish brooch or kilt-pin by John Hart, Uist, Outer Hebrides

Norwegian brooch by Elise Thiis-Evensen

Antique Scottish pebble brooch - agate and cabochon set stones

Antique Scottish pebble brooch - agate in SS

Norwegian brooch by Elise Thiis-Evensen

Norwegian brooch by Elise Thiis-Evensen



by Nerida Barnsley OAM *

Queen Victoria had two great love affairs.

The abiding love of her life was her consort Albert, a German prince to whom she proposed marriage five days after they met. The newly crowned Queen was just a youthful 20 years of age.

Her other love affair was with Scotland and all things Scottish.

For that, credit is due to Albert (who influenced the young queen to build Balmoral Castle). And credit is also due to the fashion of the times, expressed as a romantic yearning for the nostalgic aura of past times.

Perhaps this was inspired, or at least capitalised on, by authors such as Sir Walter Scott - who glamourised Scottishness and revived interest in the clans system, tartans, and other distinctive features of Scottish life.

Tokens of affection

So it was that, with royal endorsement, Scotland became fashionable - as a tourist resort, as an inspiration for romantic escapists, and as a source of tokens of affection - in the form of jewellery instantly recognizable as Scottish.

Antique jewellery
Nerida wearing a piece of antique Scottish jewellery
In August 1842, Queen Victoria and Albert set off on a fortnight's regal tour through Scotland.

While Albert spent a lot of the time bagging the local fauna, and sampling the local dram, the Queen held receptions, danced at Highland balls, and went shopping, as the diary of their royal excursion reveals:

"Mr Sanderson, the lapidary, received an award to attend at Dalkeith palace this day, with specimens of Scottish stones, and jewellery of a national character.

"These were greatly admired by Her Majesty and the ladies of the Court; and after the Queen had selected several beautiful specimens of pebble brooches, the royal suite also made extensive purchases".

Scotland's famous pebble jewellery: colourful stones set in precious metal.

In its typical form, Scottish jewellery from the Victorian era is wrought in gold or sterling silver and coloured with attractive stone, usually agate or granite, and amber quartz (from The Cairngorms mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland).

In the mid-1800s a large industry was spawned by the fashion for Scottish pebble jewellery, much of it based on traditional shapes and uses.

Ring or annular brooches were long used in Scotland to fasten a plaid at the shoulder. But the inventiveness of the craftsmen, and the desire of Victorians for decorative frivolities of all kind, soon saw the range expand beyond folk forms to include multicoloured brooches, bracelets, earrings, pins in the shape of dirks, and all manner of souvenir trinkets.

Rare skills were needed to produce jewels of distinction.

Production of this jewellery demanded a very high standard of workmanship, and precision in cutting the stone skilfully.

Whimsical designs were executed with disciplined techniques to produce distinctive jewellery, proudly claimed as "Scottish".

The emblems of Scotland often featured in the jewellery - clan crests, thistles, the St Andrew's cross, basket-hilted swords, shields and other classic weaponry.

Sentimental and romantic symbols were favourites with the Victorians.

Hearts, anchors, arrows, leaves, knotwork, horseshoes, shells and even the humble umbrella were faithfully reproduced to help express the distinctive mood of the giver or the wearer. An anchor, for example, was a traditional symbol of hope, while a horseshoe was for good luck.

Symbols of time and place retain their magic.

There is a magic about these delicate reminders of a bygone era which sets them apart from other jewellery. They are at once colourful, precious, decorative, identifiable and - above all else - evocative of the romantic love of a young queen for her handsome husband, and for a land filled with scenic wonders and possessing a rich cultural tradition.

Who could fail to be moved by these durable symbols of love, romance and chivalry - and yearn to possess and wear them proudly?

*Nerida Barnsley is the proprietor of A Little Piece of Scotland, formerly of Sutton Forest, now located in Mittagong's popular Antiques Centre, where a fine selection of Scottish pebble jewellery can be found.

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Last Updated 20/1/14