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Heirloom Victorian Micro-Mosaic Broach

In Fine Jewelry > Micro Mosaic Jewelry > Show & Tell and Fine Jewelry > Victorian and Edwardian Jewelry > Show & Tell.
BelleEpoque's loves8 of 710Antique Arts and Crafts cufflinks, silver, turquoises, enamel and gold.Edwardian Gold Diamond Pearl and Opal Necklace.
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Posted 9 months ago


(310 items)

This is one of my mother’s greatest treasures. It had been my great-great-grandmothers. It has been passed along from mother to eldest daughter until it reached my mother. There is a bit of a problem at this point since my mother had no daughters and there are no grandchildren, but one thing is sure – it will stay in the family. That last image is of my great-great-grandmother wearing the broach.

This I know – it’s a 1 ½” oval of polished black stone, surrounded by a gold frame. The image is made up of VERY tiny pieces, as in a mosaic. The box has the jeweler’s name “H.H. Dobson” of “32 Piccadilly.” Googling that, I learned that dates it to between 1851 and 1877.

The image of the building is incredibly detailed. From what I’ve read online, these “micro-mosaics” were a popular style back then with the Victorian tourist trade in Italy, and Italian antiquities were a common subject. Eventually English craftsmen began making them. Until recently I believed that the black stone was onyx, but then I read that black Derbyshire marble was frequently used. I’ve no idea how the two stones compare, but the stone in the broach is completely black and has a high luster.

The family legend is that when my great-great-grandmother was a young woman, she was part of the household staff of an earl who had a sickly wife. My ancestor’s job was to care for the woman, which she did with great compassion. When the Lady passed away, the earl gifted this broach that had belonged to his wife in appreciation. I have no idea how plausible that story is, given the relationship between English peers and the staff of the manors during the Victorian period, but there you have it.

Another story is about the missing fragments of gold filigree. My great grandmother wore the broach on her shawl when she went to church. The pieces that broke off were from the repeated tossing of her shawl back over the church pew.

My grandmother tried to have the gold filigree fixed in the 1950s, but the jeweler could not match the gold correctly, and a close examination of the left portion of the frame shows the attempt at repair.


  1. SpiritBear SpiritBear, 9 months ago
    Wonderful piece of family history.
  2. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 9 months ago
    Fantastic detail and a great story, I bet when it broke someone was sick for weeks over it I would think it could be recast making a pattern off yours but at a great cost eh we should all look so good at that age ;D Love it!
  3. Efesgirl Efesgirl, 9 months ago
    This is fantastic! The building is the Pantheon.
  4. racer4four racer4four, 9 months ago
    It's wonderful Chis, and even better with the family history and photo. That's amazing.

    I hope Agram see this, she knows a lot about micro mosaic. I'm wondering if this was not made in Italy and sold by Dobson. Micro mosaic of this quality was generally European, Italian in particular.
  5. TassieDevil TassieDevil, 9 months ago
    It is lovely Chris.....so nice to see wonderful pieces of family history like these and the photo is very special!
  6. Agram.m Agram.m, 9 months ago
    Fantastic old Micro Mosaic jewelry of the Pantheon in Rome as a souvenir for rich tourists in the 19th brought back homebecause there were not yet photos possible in the that period.
  7. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 9 months ago
    It seems odd to me tha ta woman would wear a building on a broach...it would be a really neat watch fob. Does anyone think it could have been made as a fob, and redone?
  8. Gillian, 7 months ago
    Wonder where the watch chain fitted in that box, that was made for the brooch?

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