Ulster Museum: jewellery collection – the corals

Ulster Museum: coral “Cavan brooch”, mid-19th century

Ulster Museum: coral brooch and earrings, 19th century

The Ulster Museum sits serenely in the town’s Botanic Gardens, and its clearly a hit with tourists and locals alike. There’s something for everyone here in its electic displays, including for lovers of jewellery.

The museum is one of just a handful in the UK to house part of the Anne Hull Grundy jewellery collection.  Appropriately enough, the pieces to be found in the Ulster Museum are some of the finest examples of 19th century Irish jewellery in that collection. There are six cases worth spanning several centuries, and a very informative guide which explains, amongst other things, why some jewels are so much sparklier than others …

These coral pieces are some of my favourites from the collection. I was not expecting to see coral in Irish jewellery, and somehow these designs really caught my eye. The “Cavan” brooch might have been made to cash in on a mid 19th centry trend that saw a revival of interest in Celtic designs. It was probably just ornamental and not designed to hold together swathes of cloth – the purpose of the 6th-7th century Pictish brooches from which the design is derived.

 

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