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Restoration 12: The Firecracker Brooch

Firecracker brooch before restoration
As found, this brooch had yellowed stones and several that did not quite fit.


The construction on this piece is typical for brands like Judy Lee and Beau Jewels, although many many pieces were made in this way and the vast majoirty are unatttributed. 
Back of firecracker brooch
This construction technique is called rivet and swedge. Swedges came in a variety of shapes and sizes and several could be attached together with rivets to form the most fantastical pieces. This was a common way of making jewelry with cold connections (no solder) and it reached its nadir in the 50s and 60s. You'll see a lot of atomic starburst brooches and earrings made this way, as well as flowers, and in this case, a bouquet.
Firecracker brooch after restoration
This brooch has the cups built right into the swedges, but many swedges simply had holes where you could attach a cup of any size and shape. 

Rivet and swedge was a mainstay of 5 and Dime pieces. You'll often come across small brooches and scatter pins made with a few layers of stampings and one central stone. As the pieces below show, they were simple in design, but had enough sparkle to ensure anyone could afford to feel ritzy.
Dime store scatter pinBack of dime store scatter pin
Rivet and swedge brooch with filigreeBack of brooch with swedge and filigree
The gold tone piece above incorporates swedge and filigree.

Below is a fine example of this construction used to dazzling affect, a brooch by Judy Lee.
Orange Judy Lee starburst broochBack of Judy Lee starburst brooch
Notice how multiple swedges have been stacked to achieve the final result, and how each cup is individually riveted. This gave designers a lot of freedom in choosing which stones to put where!


You can watch a video of the restoration process of the firecracker below, it may take a moment to load.

<blockquote class="tiktok-embed" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@dameroxy/video/7235808143048183086" data-video-id="7235808143048183086" style="max-width: 605px;min-width: 325px;" > <section> <a target="_blank" title="@dameroxy" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@dameroxy?refer=embed">@dameroxy</a> I made a firecracker!   <a title="rebornbyroxy" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/rebornbyroxy?refer=embed">#rebornbyroxy</a> <a title="vintagecostumejewelry" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/vintagecostumejewelry?refer=embed">#vintagecostumejewelry</a> <a title="vintagebrooch" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/vintagebrooch?refer=embed">#vintagebrooch</a> <a title="sparkle" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/sparkle?refer=embed">#sparkle</a> <a title="midcentury" target="_blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/midcentury?refer=embed">#midcentury</a> <a target="_blank" title="♬ Fever - Sarah Vaughan" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/Fever-6929521642490038273?refer=embed">♬ Fever - Sarah Vaughan</a> </section> </blockquote> <script async src="https://www.tiktok.com/embed.js"></script> 

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