Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vintage brooches

Above: Eloxal brooches from West Germany

Brooches in the form of coats of arms from the various European countries
I love collecting vintage brooches when I'm abroad as I can't really find them locally. But one afternoon, a moment of serendipity brought me to a shop in Singapore that has been around since 1968. The couple who now owns it inherited the business and they have a wonderful selection of vintage jewellery stashed amongst more modern pieces . These vintage pieces go all the way back to the 70's and unlike today where most costume jewellery come from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, these older pieces were from Germany, Spain and England. Over the years, the high labour costs in these countries made it difficult for this industry to remain competitive. I love the aluminium alloy jewellery that was a specialty of West Germany (before the period of unification). They were known as eloxal (electrolytic oxidation of aluminum) which is an incredibly lightweight aluminum alloy. Much of the late 1950s-70s West German metal jewelry is made of Eloxal. This Eloxal metal has survived wonderfully over the years because of its inherent resilient qualities. It will not tarnish, is scratch resistant and many pieces look exactly the same as the day it was made. How wonderful is that !

The couple also had a few pieces of the most unusual brooches. These featured the coat of arms of England and even Bavaria, a state in Germany. The owner shared the story of how he managed to obtain these pieces years back when a friend who owned a similar kind of shop migrated to Hong Kong. I particularly like the design for the coat of arms of England's majesty service which features a lion and a unicorn. The lion symbolises England and the unicorn, Scotland. The inscription Dieu Et Mon Driot is a French word meaning God and my right.

Singapore which follows the British judisciary system also has its coat of arms which features a lion and a tiger. The lion represents the current state while the tiger honours our cultural link to Malaysia. The inscription Majulah Singapura means Onward Singapore in Malay.

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