Date: September 17, 2013 | Story: Tiffany Burgess Adams | Styling: Mandy Keener |
Vintage women’s brooches are shimmering reminders of the femininity and grace of past eras
Charm, elegance and sophistication all seem to come to mind when you think of a woman’s brooch. Whether it’s the pin your grandmother wore on her Sunday suit or a brooch you carried on your wedding day, the nostalgic meaningfulness the pieces hold is often greater than any monetary value.
For Little Rock collector Kathy Sweere, brooches are a natural extension of her lifelong love affair with clothes and accessories. As a self-proclaimed “clothes horse” and the daughter of a dime store manager, she was no stranger to the sparkling allure of costume jewelry and developed a particular penchant for pearls, rhinestones and one-of-a-kind pieces. Later in life, this passion led her to “rob” her mother’s jewelry box for pieces she could wear as an adult.
However, these pieces were just the start of her pursuit. Sweere soon began to shop local antique malls and sales for vintage costume jewelry, including brooches. “Sometimes you just happen upon things and you don’t know why, but it’s different—and you must have it,” she says of the hundreds of pieces she has gathered since she began shopping in the late 1990s for the booths she currently has at Blue Suede Shoes Antique Mall and Mid-Towne Antique Mall.
As for her encyclopedic-like knowledge of the pieces, Sweere was fortunate to stumble upon women’s magazines from the 1930s and 1940s. “I was shopping with my sister and she was growing impatient as I searched through each one, so I ended up buying them all,” she laughs. The descriptions and images in the magazines along with the first-hand recollections she gathers from both her father and mother have proved to be nearly as valuable and time-honored as the brooches themselves.