Rose are red,
Violets are blue,
Someone loves you
Here is a clue…
The Sweetheart Brooch
The 28th June 1914 is a date that is indelibly etched in black on the history of mankind; it is the date of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The attack, by 19-year-old Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip, precipitated the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. The Russians backed Serbia, the Germans backed Austro-Hungary and on August 1st, 1914, after fraught negotiations between Kaiser Wilhelm II and his cousin Tsar Nicholas II, Germany declared war on Russia; and so began the Great War of 1914 to 1918.
The war resulted in the deaths of around 16.5 million men, women and children. Of these were around 9.7 million military deaths. The vast majority of these were men. From the perspective of the United Kingdom and Ireland, over 5.7 million men served over the course of the conflict. Many left wives, girlfriends and sweethearts behind, unknowing as to whether they would see them again.
What is a Sweetheart Brooch?
During the course of the war servicemen leaving home for the desolate conditions of the front line had to say goodbye to those they loved, leaving gifts alongside their memories. One popular gift was a small brooch depicting the service crest or soldier’s regimental badge. This was given as a reminder of their absence but also that home was always in their thoughts and hearts. The name sweetheart can be misleading as it suggests that the item was only given to their sweethearts but this isn’t the case. The sweetheart brooch was given to anyone who the individual was leaving behind at home; therefore this could be their wife, their parents, their family and children. If it was given to the special woman in their life this would be worn as a symbol of their pride and regard for their brave man, risking his life for King and country, on foreign shores.
The brooches themselves, aside from depicting the connection between the armed services and an individual, were small and fitted with pins in order that could be worn on a blouse or lapel. The style originated from the collar dogs or cap badges of a regiment or corps, and such brooches were first issued twenty years previously during the Boer war in Africa. The year 1915 is the most common for First World War brooches.
As sweetheart brooches became increasing popular, jewellers quickly cottoned on and started producing them commercially. Such brooches were predominately smaller than the original service badges and made from finer metals such as gold or silver rather than coloured base metals; some were embellished with precious stones.
The two examples below present classic military sweetheart brooches from a bygone era of antique and vintage;
The brooch above is part of our antique and vintage jewellery range. This antique World War I ‘Tyneside Scottish Brigade’ regimental brooch was made by Thomas L Mott. The sweetheart brooch depicts the St Andrew’s Cross flanked by thistle sprays and overlaid with the text ‘Tyneside Scottish’. St Andrews Cross is also known as a saltire, the shape is a warning sign and indicates a point of interception. One could say it was a symbol for the men that they were the interception against the invaders of their land and all that they hold dear.
The Tyneside Scottish title has been held by Regiments Northumberland Fusiliers, Durham Light Infantry, Black Watch & Royal Artillery. The origins of the Tyneside Scottish are the Kitchener’s Army and were called to fight in the first world was. The 102nd Brigade contained four Pals battalions from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Even though it was called The Scottish brigade, it was made up of men from the tyneside area and the brigade accepted any nationality.
The bravery of the servicemen who served fighting for their country should never be questioned. We should never forget the men who fought for us!
The Royal Air force RAF Cap Badge was originally brass and worn by all NCO’s and service men. This was formed 1st April 1918 and worn until 1952. This vintage sweetheart brooch has been modelled on the classic Royal Air force RAF Cap Badge. It has incorporated the eagle wings with white gold and embellished with stunning pave set eight-cut diamonds. The central 9 ct white gold ‘RAF’ emblem mounted to a 9 ct yellow gold Queen’s green enamel laurel wreath, with the Queen’s red enamel and diamond crop to the upper border.
*It is said that the eagles are meant to be worn in pairs with them facing backwards. The unofficial RAF motto for this is that “We have eyes everywhere”. The Air Ministry Order(s) which introduced the badges in 1918 that they were to be worn face onwards. Making the official motto “Through struggle to the stars”.
Still in our hearts and thoughts today…
Although sweetheart brooches may be from a bygone era, they still hold a very relevant place in many peoples’ hearts as iconic examples of a close connection with a particular armed service, regiment or individual who may (or may not) be still serving his/her country.
Who said you can’t wear your heart on your sleeve?
Naomi Jenkinson – Website Jewellery Uploader
Naomi is responsible for uploading jewellery items to the AC Silver website. Naomi has many years’ experience in the jewellery industry and has passed the National Association of Goldsmiths Jewellers’ Jewellery Education and Training (JET 1).