Brooches were originally used in a practical sense, usually to secure an item of clothing or to hold something together. A brooch (or a pin) could be used to secure a lady's lace handkerchief to her gown or worn as a memento to a loved one passed. Brooches from the 19th century include pieces made from tortoiseshell, often inlaid with gold and silver known as pique and hardstone cameo brooches crafted from carnelian and sardonyx. Many pieces were made from paste (man-made glass) in colours similar to the gems they were imitating. It is not unusual to have a brooch with a mixture of paste and real gems. The early 20th Century or Art Deco period saw stunning diamonds set in platinum and gold in lovely geometrical designs. Today, the way we wear brooches has come a long way, and they are now more decorative than practical. In an age of mass production, an interesting antique brooch can lift an outfit and give it personality. Investing in a quality piece once a year will give you stunning collection before long!