What’s It Worth? Decadent, Collectible Georgian-Era Jewelry

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Have you ever heard of a stomacher? Stomachers were very popular in the Georgian time period (circa 1730-1830), and continued into the early 20th century in some circles.

We’ve only seen a few stomachers in our 25 years in business, but last week, a local antiques dealer came in with a rather nice one. Stomachers are sizable pins to adorn the lower torso, hence the name. They are also called placards or plackets, and are meant to cover the mid-to-lower torso on fancy gowns.

All stomachers are collectible. Some, like the gold one with ultra-fine gemstones pictured in the lower black & white photo, can fetch as much as $30-$40,000 or more, depending on condition and provenance. The less pricey ones are made of silver and semiprecious gemstones, like the antique dealer’s example shown in the colorful photo on top ... it has mabe pearls, garnets, citrine, topaz and quartz, or even glass and paste.

Valuation is interesting: the sum of its parts might make it worth about $200 or $300, since the gemstones are inexpensive and backed with colored foil to enhance color and give the stones more brightness. (In the trade, we call these “foil backs.”) But because there is a huge collectors’ market for stomachers, we were still able to sell our colorful 1780s piece for a bit under $4,000 – achieving a 25 percent profit.

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GIA, Gemological Institute of America Inc IWJG, International Watch and Jewelry Guild NAWCC, National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc DDC, Diamond Dealers Club New York ISG Global Network