A Shakespearean Star (Ruby)
In celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary, we present a piece that illustrates the breadth of the playwright’s influence: a Midsummer Night’s Dream themed brooch by Tiffany & Co. circa 1900.
The brooch is Art Nouveau, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century movement based on using new, freer forms of expression in an effort to breakaway from nineteenth-century historicism. Stylistic characteristics include nature, fantasy, curving lines, and female figures. It is only fitting that an early Tiffany Art Nouveau piece would take inspiration from the faerie realm of a Shakespearean play. The design features Titania, Queen of the Faeries, reclining amidst a dragonfly and a wasp on a spiderweb while holding hands with winged Puck. The pin is sculpted in 18-karat gold and adorned with a 5.84-carat oval cabochon star ruby and natural pearl drop.
In the United States, Tiffany & Co. was the foremost company producing not only jewelry but also decorative art works in the Art Nouveau style. The whimsical and dreamlike imagery of Shakespeare’s words are further echoed in the brooch through the use of the star ruby. The asterism in the stone gives it a magical, otherworldly quality. When the light hits it, a double rayed white star bursts across the dome, an enchanting phenomenon that inspires the Shakespeare in all of us.