Antique: Pearl and Diamond Star Brooch, Napoleon III

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SKU: #BG528

This bewitching diamond star is from France and dates to the Napoleon III period (1852-1870). It is 18 Kt gold and set primarily with Old Mine Cut diamonds. The smaller diamonds near the end points are Rose Cuts.

At the center, is a lovely and lustrous white baroque-shaped pearl. It is possible that it is natural due to the period of the piece and the fact that it is thought to be original to the brooch, but it has not been lab verified.

Dimensions & Details

  • The brooch is 18 Kt gold (tested). The diamonds are old mine cuts and rose cuts.
  • The center pearl is thought to be natural rather than cultured due to the date of the brooch and to the belief that it appears to be original to the piece. Cultured pearls were not commercially available until the late teens, early 1920's (note: they have not been lab tested to confirm).
  • The diameter of the brooch is approximately 30mm. The diameter of the pearl is approximately 9mm.
  • The pearl is in very good condition, it is white in hue with a very good luster.
  • The diamonds range in clarity in color. Many have a grey tone (as you can see in the images) with some imperfections (some set slightly deeper than others). However, the imperfections are often what makes an antique piece unique and interesting. Despite the color range, the diamonds still have a nice sparkle.


  • France.

Period & Hallmarks

  • Napoleon III.
  • None.


  • The brooch is overall in good antique condition with general wear and oxidation to the gold that one would expect in a piece of this age. Two of the small diamonds are possible later replacements although they are consistent in cut with the others in the piece and therefore it is difficult to tell.
  • The clasp is in good working condition.

The Star Brooch, A Royal Favorite

Empress Elisabeth and Her Diamond and Pearl Stars: Known in France as the Napoleon III period, to the Austrians, it was part of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

In 1865, Franz Xaver Winterhalter created a portrait of Elisabeth in a dress designed by Worth (the father of Haute Couture) with diamonds stars pinned into, and cascading down her hair. The painting made the Empress's diamond stars famous and started a trend throughout Europe.

According to the Schönbrunn Palace (home to the Empress Elisabeth Museum) "...there were various versions, namely eight-pointed and ten-pointed stars with and without pearls produced in a variety of jeweler's workshops."

Princess Alexandra and Her Star Brooches: While Empress Elizabeth is credited with making the diamond star famous in the 19th century, Princess Alexandra is credited with reviving the popularity of the star brooch trend in the 20th.

There are several photographs of her wearing her diamonds in the form of layered necklaces, tiaras, and of course her star brooches (pinned along her neckline and then down the front of her gown).

If you are interested in reading more about the jewelry terms or decorative periods referenced throughout our site, visit our Resources section for additional information.

Find out how to care for your collection of antique and modern jewels: visit our Jewelry Care page to get advice on maintaining and storing your treasured pieces.

Please note that in order to clean jewelry containing pearls, use only a damp, untreated soft cloth. Do not soak in water, dip in cleaning solution, or rub with a chemically treated cloth.

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