The development of clothing entailed the question of how to fasten or artfully gather garments, something which evolved into a theme that challenged jewellery makers in various epochs. The story of fibulae and broaches throughout the ages told by the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim.
Spectacle fibula | 9th-8th century BCE | Northern Greece | Bronze
The spectacle fibula dates back to the Central European Urnfield culture (13th–11th century BC). In Greece, these elaborately crafted garment fasteners became common accessories in the 11th century BC, and were usually worn in pairs, one on each shoulder. Reminiscent of spectacles (hence the name), this double-spiral type of fibula was made from a single bronze wire.
Fibula | 8th century BCE | Greece
Displaying a magnificently lustrous green patina, this bronze fibula is characterized by the archetypal fibula shape featuring an arched element and a pin. It also illustrates how fibulae were used. The principle is similar to that of a modern safety pin. This type of fibula was mainly used to fasten cloaks and coats.
Etruscan fibula | Second half of the 6th century BCE | Gold
Fibulae were not only regarded as useful devices, they were often lavishly decorated as well. This small fibula enhanced with a sphinx on the catch was created in Etruria. The Etruscans were virtuoso masters of the goldsmith’s craft, as is also evidenced by the next piece.
Etruscan ornamental discs | 6th century BCE | Gold with granulation
Granulation, a technique of decorating a precious metal surface (mostly gold or silver) with tiny spherules of usually the same material was used back in the 3rd millennium BCE. The technique reached its apogee in the 6th century BCE in Etruria, today’s Tuscany region, as is evidenced by two golden ornamental discs worn as earrings by a noblewoman around that time and displaying the Etruscan goldsmiths’ outstanding craftsmanship.
Dress ornament | 6th century | Bronze
Rings and garment decoration were the most common types of jewellery in the Early and High Middle Ages. People used to wear wide cloaks on top of their clothing, which were secured by a garment fastener. The neck opening was fastened by means of an ornamental clasp called an agraffe.
Bunch of flowers (agraffe) | About 1620-1630 | Gold, emerald, diamonds, enamel
The Late Middle Ages saw the advent of the agraffe, which could be used to fasten two pieces of clothing. There were types of agraffe that were permanently sewn to garments, joining the pieces concerned by means of hooks and eyelets.
Other types were merely hooked to the two garments involved, and could be taken off. One magnificent example is this agraffe created around 1620 in the shape of a sumptuous bouquet of flowers made of gold, diamonds, enamel and a resplendent emerald. Style-conscious gentlemen even liked to wear a dazzling eye-catcher like this attached to their hats.
Fritz Falk: Schmuck 1840-1940. Highlights Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Stuttgart 2004
Fritz Falk: Serpentina. Die Schlange im Schmuck der Welt. Stuttgart 2011
Fritz Falk, Cornelie Holzach: Schmuck der Moderne 1960-1998. Bestandskatalog der modernen Sammlung des Schmuckmuseums Pforzheim. Stuttgart 1999
Cornelie Holzach: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. Museumsführer. Pforzheim 2015