Lilies 1850s

antique diamond lilies spray brooches


Lily, Lilies

A pair of two diamond spray brooches, with detachable fitting

Europe, probably the Netherlands

Approximately 1850


Gold 18ct 750/1000 with 585/1000 pins, Silver setting, old mine cut and rose-cut diamonds, natural pearls

66,5 x 38,5 (P) & 68,5 x 35,2 (D) mm

12,87 (P) & 13,67 (D) grams





This pair of diamond-set brooches, representing lilies, belong together. We may presume, due to their detachable fittings, they once formed part of a splendorous set of jewellery or a more significant piece, for instance, a tiara like the one shown here. Flanking the centrepiece of the exemplary tiara the pins of two spray brooches are visible. One particular piece of elaborate diamond jewellery could commonly be taken apart and worn in several ways, according to taste or occasion. This set of brooches would also make a magnificent pair of earrings, for instance.

In the Christian tradition, the lily is the symbol of hope, purity and virginity. This symbolism is probably one of the reasons why these sprays are omnipresent in floral arrangements at a wedding. Majestic diamond lilies also feature in jewellery for this special day. In the 19th century jewels, the long pistils were often not depicted, as these were with lust.
The lily also makes a fragrant symbol at funerals, when it’s meaning is ‘To find peace of mind’.
Greek mythology tells the story of the first lilies. While the goddess Hera was nursing the strong baby Hercules, her milk sprayed away. This accidental spill created both the Milky Way and the perfect white flowers. The Ancient Greek too associated them with virtue and virginity.

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