Scottish jewelry

Celtic inspired and Scottish style agate glass costume jewellery

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch info

Celtic inspired and Scottish glass agate costume jewellery is very distinctive , with the designs often based on earlier Victorian and pre-antiquity pieces. Made from glass stones (created to imitate the agates) which are set into non-precious mixed metal, they are a beautiful mix of intricate patterns and bold statement features.

Notable makers are Miracle and Heathergems (who ingeniously use compressed real heather found on the Scottish moors to create stones,) though collectors might also come across vintage producers no longer in business, such as Jacobite and Hollywood; look for ‘signatures’ and makers stamps on the back of the jewellery as often (but not always) jewellery might be signed.

Telling the difference between modern Celtic inspired and Scottish costume jewellery and older ‘real’ antique  agate jewellery can be tricky at first. As a general rule, antiques tend to be more delicate and intricate in nature; look for fine etching, flush stone settings and top quality scroll patterns. T-bar pins and long pins are a sign of antique brooches too (see here for my guide to dating antique brooches for more info). Antique Celtic inspired and Scottish jewellery is made from real agates and gemstones.

How to id identify antique vintage scottish agate jewellery and costume jewelry

ABOVE: a real circa 1870s Victorian antique Scottish agate sterling silver brooch. Notice the quality flush settings of the agate stones (each one from a part of the Scottish coastline), intricate scroll work around the sides, and long pin which sticks out from the side of the brooch.

 

More modern Scottish costume jewellery dates from circa 1950s to today, and is usually made from glass, enamel or other imitation ‘stones’. The pieces tend to be much chunkier, and often include thistles and Celtic knot work patterns (surprisingly, real Victorian antique Celtic and Scottish jewellery rarely shows thistles or Celtic knot patterns, instead using popular Victorian era scroll patterns of the time instead).

 

How to id identify real antique vs costume faux Scottish jewelry

ABOVE: a more modern costume jewellery circa 1980s glass agate brooch. Notice the chunky stone settings, Celtic patterns and ‘mottled’ stone colours of the glass (which is trying to imitate agates.

 

Here are some of my favourite Celtic inspired and Scottish costume jewellery designs:

 

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Beautiful simple Celtic cross brooch, with brown banded glass stone, made circa 1980s. A sign of more modern Celtic inspired and Scottish jewellery is the use of the cross in the design, along with Celtic patterns.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Some costume Scottish or Celtic inspired brooches do have gemstones set into them (such as this quartz), though note the metal is still mixed/non-precious, as seen in this lovely modern brooch.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Gorgeous circa 1970s Scottish inspired brooch. Whilst the patterns are intricate, the stones (made from glass) are glued in quite crudely, and not flush set.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Unusual Celtic glass agate brooch, set into imitation gold colour metal.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Chunky, bold and vivid colourful design – a hallmark of more modern Scottish agate glass inspired brooches.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Stunning circa 1950s glass stone brooch.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Lovely penannular style brooch, made from mixed metal and glass. Genuine penannular brooches are a type of cloak fastener rather than decoration brooch – though note the costume jewellery designs (such as this one) are decoration only, and don’t work!

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Magnificent Scottish glass agate costume jewellery brooch, set in bronze colour metal.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Whilst brooches are the most popular type of Scottish and Celtic inspired costume jewellery, pendants, bracelets and rings are made too.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Outstanding and rare design huge Celtic costume jewellery brooch, made with orange speckled glass stones and set into pewter tone metal.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery cross pendant necklace

Lovely glass agate cross pendant

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Unusual black glass agate costume brooch

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery cross bracelet

Whilst brooches are the most popular type of Scottish and Celtic costume jewellery, pendants, bracelets and rings are made too.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery earrings

Gorgeous little Scottish thistle costume jewellery earrings, with glass ‘amber’ flowers.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Lovely Heathergems stone thistle brooch. You can learn more about the amazing way heather flowers are turned into Heathergems jewellery here.

vintage modern Celtic Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Stunning thistle design Scottish glass agate brooch

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Rare fan posy design Scottish and Celtic inspired brooch – note the good quality faux bloodstones, which have been made out of glass

vintage modern Celtic Scottish agate glass costume jewellery pendant cross necklace

Huge Celtic glass agate cross pendant necklace

 

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Very unusual circa 1960s modernist Cetic inspired brooch, with green marble stone. There is a signature to this piece but it’s an unknown maker.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Detail of the above brooch – this is the signature to this piece but it’s an unknown maker.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Vintage circa 1960s Scottish Celtic inspired pendant, made from glass stones, and signed ‘Hollywood’ on the back. Hollywood were a well known costume jewellery makers during the mid 20th Century.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Stunning pre-antiquity-inspired modern Celtic brooch made with brown glass stones in bronze tone metal.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Gorgeous Scottish style thistle brooch, detailed with blue and purple glass banded stones.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery brooch

Stunning Celtic pattern green glass stone costume jewelry brooch – top quality, and signed ‘Jacobite’ on the back.

vintage modern Scottish agate glass costume jewellery ring

Whilst brooches are the most popular type of Scottish and Celtic costume jewellery, pendants, bracelets and rings are made too.

 

 

References and further reading:

Miracle Jewellery shop: https://www.miraclejewellery.co.uk/

Vintage Miracle and Jacobite costume jewellery info: https://www.vintageandhandmadejewels.com/signed-uk-jewellery-439-c.asp

Vintage Hollywood costume jewellery info: https://www.vintageandhandmadejewels.com/signed-uk-jewellery-439-c.asp

Heathegems shop: https://www.heathergems.com/

Guide to Victorian Scottish jewellery: https://jewellerymuse.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/vintage-and-antique-scottish-agate-jewellery-info-guide/

How to date vintage and antique brooches: https://jewellerymuse.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/tips-on-how-to-date-a-vintage-brooch/

 

I sometimes have Scottish and Celtic jewellery in my shop – please check here to see there is any in stock.

 

 

 

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Vintage and Antique Scottish agate jewellery info guide

Antique scottish agate brooch jewellery

A brief history

Agate jewellery has been produced in Scotland for hundreds of years, though it was Queen Victoria’s love affair with all things Scottish (culminating in the purchase of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire around the 1850s) which propelled this distinctive type of jewellery to public view. Back in the 19th Century, the aristocracy were a major influence on fashion, and soon people began following the Queen style, which included wearing Scottish jewellery. Popular designs were ‘plaid’ brooches (ie agates laid together in a kind of mosaic), and carved agates set into silver bracelets, complete with carved agate buckles, heart clasps and charms.

 

antique jewelry Scottish agate dirk pin, with Scottish amethyst gemstone detail.

ABOVE: An antique Scottish agate dirk pin, with Scottish amethyst gemstone detail.

 

Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 signaled a general decline in the popularity of Scottish agate jewellery. However, it became fashionable once again in the 1950s – 1970s when the old Scottish designs were re-created in bold costume jewellery, which used cheaper glass instead of real agates. Famous companies who made this type of jewellery include Miracle, Jacobite and Jem. By the later 20th Century, the beauty of genuine old antique Scottish jewellery was being quietly being rediscovered. Nowadays it is incredible sought after, and antique Scottish agate work can command high prices.

 

antique victorian edwardian scottish agate locket jewellery

What Is Scottish Agate Jewellery?

The beautiful country of Scotland is home to an amazing array of chalcedony quartz gemstone, also known as agate, which comes in a huge variety of colours and patterns. It was this quality that attracted the skilled craftsmen of the ancient past to experiment with slicing and placing them together to form colourful mosaic patterns. This agate work was then set into metal (usually solid silver, though occasionally solid gold too). The best antique Scottish jewellery often shows different slices of agate which have been slotted, plaided and polished together into patterns to almost form one stone – some jewellery even resembled multi-coloured tartan patterns.
When it came to wearing Scottish agates, it was the brooches which were the most commonly worn as they were both beautiful and functional, holding those heavy Victorian garments, capes and kilts in place. Bracelets, earrings and rings were slightly more unusual. Occasionally Scottish agate necklaces were made, though these are rare and generally only seen in museums or specialist collections.

ABOVE: This circa 1870s brooch is a fine example of old Victorian Scottish agate jewellery. Note the flush setting, and high polish finish. Each of these agates came from a different part of Scotland.

ABOVE: This circa 1870s brooch is a fine example of old Victorian Scottish agate jewellery. Note the flush setting, and high polish finish. Each of these agates came from a different part of Scotland.

Vintage Victorian edwardian scottish agate brooch jewellery, with stunning metal scroll patterns

ABOVE: A simple Victorian Scottish Agate jewellery ‘slab agate’ brooch, so call named as it is made from only one solid piece of agate. Also, notice the metalwork patterns – Victorians used fine scroll work on their jewellery, not Celtic knotwork patterns.

 

Jewellery symbolism played an important part of Victorian life. Certain motifs were popular, such as horseshoes, anchors, axes, flowers, thistles, daggers, shields and knots. Buckle motifs were especially loved by the Victorians, and jewellery which displays a buckle piece in its design is still sought after today. Occasionally you’ll see household objects such as kettles, or musical instruments like harps and violins, as canny Victorian jewelers sought to tap into more sentimental designs.

 

Vintage victorian edwardian scottish agate brooch jewellery, with articulated buckle

ABOVE: Buckle motifs were popular in the Victorian era. This fine example of Scottish agate jewellery dates from circa 1870s, and the buckle is even movable.

It’s the simple beauty, variety of designs, exquisite workmanship and of course the amazing colours of Scottish jewellery which makes it so desirable. It’s still made today, though in general it tends to be quite different from its ancestors, with greater emphasis on modern metal-work Celtic knot-work patterns rather than creating a mosaic of agate stones.

 

ABOVE: A 20th Century reproduction Scottish jewellery brooch, made with real Scottish agates and a centre citrine quartz gemstone. A quick note - antique and vintage 'Scottish' agate jewellery wasn't always actually made in Scotland. England was a producer too, and the silver work was often assayed in Chester and Birmingham. A lot of genuinely Scottish made jewellery was not assayed at all.

ABOVE: A 20th Century reproduction Scottish jewellery brooch, made with real Scottish agates and a centre citrine quartz gemstone. A quick note – antique and vintage ‘Scottish’ agate jewellery wasn’t always actually made in Scotland. England was a producer too, and the silver work was often assayed in Chester and Birmingham. A lot of genuinely Scottish made jewellery was not assayed at all.

Scottish Costume Jewellery Reproductions

As with most fine antique jewellery, you will come across modern and more affordable takes on this old genre. The skill that was involved in creating the real Victorian Scottish agate work was huge, so nowadays it’s too time consuming to recreate accurately. Therefore modern ‘Scottishinspired’ jewelry is quite easy to spot with a little practice. Collecting Scottish costume jewellery is a hobby in it’s own right.

Vintage Scottish Celtic glass agate brooch signed Miracle

ABOVE: A reproduction Scottish style glass agate brooch, signed Miracle. This jewellery design company specializes in reproduction Scottish agate jewellery, and has a dazzling array of beautiful designs. Even though most Miracle jewellery is classed as costume jewellery, it is collected throughout the world.

 

The most common indication of a modern reproduction is glass being used instead of agate. This can be difficult to identify at first, because they both are hard, cold materials. However, the modern stones tend to be set into much chunkier metal than agates, and the metal work will often show crude patterns. A good magnifying glass or jewelers loupe is a must – agates often have bits of natural surface wear and some can be slightly matte, while glass is usually ice smooth and more reflective.

I’ve set up two Pinterest Boards which show what antique Scottish jewellery and then modern Scottish jewellery looks like:

Antique Scottish agate jewellery (dating 1850s to 1900s)

Later vintage/ modern Celtic and Scottish glass costume jewellery (dating 1960s to 2000s)

Collecting modern Scottish inspired costume jewellery is a popular hobby in itself, but occasionally even second-hand jewellery sellers and antique dealers can’t seem to tell the difference between the modern costume jewellery copies and genuine antique agate work! Always ask sellers friendly questions before you buy if you’re unsure of a piece, and make sure they accept returns if you are unhappy with your purchase.

ABOVE: A modern reproduction Celtic style ring, with purple glass imitation agate. Notice how the metal work is the focus of the jewellery, not the stone. In genuine antique Scottish jewellery it is the other way round - the focus is on the stone work, not the metal.

ABOVE: A modern reproduction Celtic style ring, with purple glass imitation agate. Notice how the metal work is the focus of the jewellery, not the stone. In genuine antique Scottish jewellery it is the other way round – the focus is on the stone work, not the metal.

ABOVE: A modern (circa 1980s) Scottish Celtic bracelet, with glass imitation agates. Compare this bracelet, and the above ring with the Victorian brooches. Notice how the patterns and scroll work are chunkier and more crude in modern items - this helps when trying to date Scottish jewellery.

ABOVE: A modern (circa 1980s) Scottish Celtic bracelet, with glass imitation agates. Compare this bracelet, and the above ring with the Victorian brooches. Notice how the patterns and scroll work are chunkier and more crude in modern items – this helps when trying to date Scottish jewellery.

 

Buying tips for Scottish all types of jewellery (modern and antique):

 

~Signatures: Costume jewellery from the 1950s onwards often had company name stamps (aka ‘signatures’) on them. These signatures can be hard to find at first – study the back carefully with a magnifying glass, and if you see words such as ‘Miracle’…’Jem’….’Jewelcraft’….’Hollywood’ you have a mid to late 20th Century Scottish inspired costume jewellery piece.

vintage jacobite glass stone agate celtic trifoil brooch

The back of a modern (circa 1970s) glass stone Scottish costume jewellery brooch. It is signed/ stamped ‘Jacobite’, meaning it was made by the company of that name.

~Workmanship: Modern Scottish brooches tend to have ‘chunky’ metal frames (almost always with crude engravings or thick Celtic patterns), thick prongs, and chunky raised ‘stones’. Antique Scottish jewellery usually has superb fine workmanship, flush flat stones,exquisite prong settings and occasionally delicate engraved Victorian scroll work on the metal (but no Celtic patterns).

~ Condition Condition Condition: In all cases, these should be no stones missing – these are almost impossible to replace. Also avoid cracked and badly chipped stones, unless you are genuinely in love with the piece of jewellery. Tiny nibbles (also called ‘flea bites’) to the stones are generally acceptable in antique jewellery. Check all clasps work, and there is no rust, verdigris or damage to the metal work.

malachite scottish agate brooch antique broken

The pin has broken off this old antique Scottish agate brooch – fixing it is very difficult unless your a proper jeweler.

~Does it have a two-tone mix of coral red and green malachite style stones? Watch out – I’ve witnessed some well known antiques dealers fall for this one! You may occasionally come across some Scottish style brooches which at first look to be genuine antiques – usually round brooches, or occasionally 3-leaf clovers or a horseshoe. However they are not old – they are modern mid to late 20th Century reproductions. These brooches are set into solid silver (stamped plain ‘925’), closed at the back (ie full silver backdrops rather than open or slate backed), and have small ‘agate’ tiles of malachite and coral red. But these stones are not agates – they are very good glass copies.

~ Other tips: A good way to identify these modern repros is that they usually have roll over clasps rather than the old ‘c’ style clasp (you can learn more about dating brooches by their clasp type in my Five Tips For Vintage Dating Brooches guide.)

 

Looking after your antique Scottish Agate Jewellery

A simple and very occasional light clean in mild soapy water is all you need to do to keep you jewellery clean and bright. Dry immediately and very thoroughly so the water doesn’t affect any cement which may be holding in the agates .