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Home > Auctions > 1st December 2015 > Germanic Gold and Garnet Brooch Pair

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LOT 1430

Sold for (Inc. bp): £4,960

1 3/4" (16 grams total, 44mm).

A matched pair of gold bow brooches, each a D-shaped headplate with beaded wire border, granule clusters and four cabochon garnets in cells with beaded wire collars, shallow keeled bow with offset triangular granule clusters, lozengiform footplate with beaded wire borders, granule clusters, and four cabochon garnets in cells; bronze core to the reverse with spring and catchplate. [2]

From a European collection; formerly in an old Oriental collection; acquired 1960.

Cf. Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, Berlin, 2007, item I.25.1 for a larger, similarly constructed and ornamented example.

Throughout the Roman Empire, gemstones were valued for official, ornamental, and talismanic purposes. Although the Romans prized garnets, their use in jewellery greatly expanded during what is known as the Period of Barbarian Invasions, or the Migration Period (c. AD 300–700). During that time garnets were used extensively in jewellery and traded throughout Europe and Central Asia by various peoples. The various Germanic peoples were distinct groups of semi-nomadic tribes that controlled various parts of Europe at different times with the most well known being the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Lombards, and Anglo-Saxons. One of the key elements in the jewellery of this period is the heavy use of garnets in cloisonné settings. Most Migration Period jewellery was practical in nature. It was frequently associated with clothing and represented by fibulae, shoulder clasps, belt buckles, and cloak pins. However, necklaces, armbands, and earrings have also been found. Goldsmiths worked in a number of different techniques, including repoussé, filigree, granulation, and enamelling. During the Migration Period, warriors wore garnets for decoration and protection. Garnets were set into belt buckles, sword hilts, and shields to ensure victory and to prevent mortal injury on the battlefield.