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Once Upon A Jewelry

There is a treasure trove of historical information regarding jewelry of the bygone days. We all know about rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pendants because they are very much in existence today. But do you know that there is at least one kind of jewelry that was so much en vogue in the 17th century?  This was the kind worn by high society and the nobility and were often featured in their life-sized paintings by the grand master painters of centuries past.  Unfortunately for us, these pieces have not been worn publicly beginning in the early 18th century and has since been relegated into the closets of museums and auction houses.

We are talking about stomacher jewelry or stomacher brooch jewelry. It was first introduced in Spain in the early 1600 and was quickly adapted as a fashion trend in the whole of Europe. Wikipedia defines a Stomacher as :

“… a decorated triangular panel that fills in the front opening of a woman’s gown or bodice. Stomachers were often embroidered, or covered in pearls, diamonds and other jewels.”

In many instances, a stomacher is created in interlocking sections (see photo at left), which could be worn together or individually depending on the occasion and the wearer’s whim. It could also be part of a set of jewelry that includes a ring, earring, bracelet and a pendant.  Originally designed with beautiful embroidery, it was during the renaissance period that precious stones, pearls and diamonds were incorporated through sewing onto the stomacher fabric.  The design is very  ornate that usually extends from the neckline to about 10 inches deep into the waistline. The workmanship, the details and the amount of jewelry set into it is awe-inspiring, to say the least.

Moreover, stomachers were not permanently affixed to the dress; it was simply held together by pins, usually under the bustier, and can be removed to pair with another dress that matched it. It was a must-have accessory for a woman who wanted her wealth and status affirmed.

No one really knows why this fashion did not take off like every other piece of jewelry still in use today. We could only surmise. But the more important thing is once upon a time, history lent us a period when man’s creativity, and to some extent its profligacy, reached the degree that it did during the trend of the Stomachers.

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