This type of jewellery was in production from c1840 and lasted a good way into the 1900’s.  The start of what was known as ‘The Great War’ (World War I which started in 1914) saw a lack of interest in general in this type of jewellery.

 

Some people believe that the earlier a piece is made, the better quality and craftsmanship was lavished upon it. The older examples do tend to be most favoured with collectors of this type of jewellery.
The English Queen Victoria (1837-1901) loved all things Scottish and it was largely her delight in this Scottish Pebble Brooch Jewellery that prompted ordinary people to follow her taste.

 

Souvenir jewellery was made in Scotland from agates found there in abundance so the earlier the piece, the more likely it is to have been made in Scotland.
Edinburgh was the heart of the manufacture of this type of jewellery and documentary evidence exists to show that in around 1870 almost 1000 local people were employed in its production.

At the height of its popularity, Scotland simply could not keep up with demand so production of Scottish Pebble Jewellery was also made in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter in England.
Pieces made in Birmingham often include different types of materials and stones than those produced in Scotland. Some stones were imported from Germany, Africa and India to try to keep up with demand.

 

Because most of this type of jewellery was made without hallmarks, it is often rather difficult to be precise as to where a piece was made.
Just some of the beautiful natural stones used in Pebble jewellery include carnelian, malachite, jaspers in both reds and browns, as well as sardonyx.

Quartz was used in the form of amethysts and citrines as well as the very traditional cairngorms. Towards the end of the popularity of this type of adornment, simulated amethyst and citrines were often used. Stones were also dyed to increase the intensity of colour as well as being heat treated.
Interestingly, early and traditionally made Scottish Pebble jewellery had their stones fitted and held in place only by the use of shellac alone. It is common to see these early pieces with one piece missing and as they were often of unusual shapes, they can be difficult to replace.

Whilst the body of the brooches were usually made from silver, the actual pin which pierced the fabric to hold it in place, was often made from steel (see orange agate gold framed brooch above with steel pin).
Designers drew upon traditional Scottish dress for the inspirations of their designs so it is common to see the St. Andrew’s Cross, Shields, Knots, Crests and Dirks (daggers worn on kilts).

Production from Birmingham tended to move away from the typical Scottish symbols and included more English themes such as serpents, horseshoes, anchors, arrows, leaves and shells.
This type of jewellery is often beautifully engraved and it is often very intricate and detailed. All of the work was done by hand with great craftsmanship and dedication.

All kinds of Scottish Pebble jewellery may be found, but by far the most produced of all items was the brooch. More difficult to find are bracelets, earrings, belt buckles, as well as cufflinks. Necklaces were also made but are very rare indeed.

 

 

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