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American Naval Officer's sweetheart brooch

Date: c 1945
Overall: 27 x 25 x 7 mm, 8.34 g
Medium: Gold and sterling silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Sweetheart brooch
Object No: 00046768

User Terms

    This US Naval officer's sweetheart brooch made by the jewellery company Balfour, consists of crossed fouled anchors in gold and a silver eagle perched on a shield of stars and stripes. The sweetheart custom dates back to WWI and even earlier. It continued when the U.S. faced more formidable opponents during World War II. One of the favorite ways to show patriotism and feel close to those serving was by wearing a special piece of jewellery reflecting the branch of service a sweetheart, son or brother was representing.
    SignificanceThis jewellery represents an era where practically everyone in Australia and America backed the war effort. Women moved into factory positions while children were mounting ration campaigns. A soldier gave this jewellery to someone special as a gesture of love and remembrance. Some pieces signified a soldier's general location, like the South Pacific, or his branch of military service.
    HistoryBrooches given as a token of affection (hence Sweetheart Brooches) have been in existence for hundreds of years, perhaps even as far back as Roman times. They flourished during the Victorian era, giving rise to thousands of designs in gold and silver, embracing hearts, lovebirds, flowers and leaves, together with symbols of religious significance such as an anchor or a cross.

    The Boer war and more particularly World War I and World War II gave rise to many thousands of these brooches, all with a military connection, now commonly known as military sweetheart brooches. This term is now often used to embrace any piece of jewellery that has military significance.

    An American entrepreneur, Lloyd George Balfour noticed a gap in the student jewellery market in 1913. He formed a company, called Balfour, to manufacture and distribute sorority and fraternity jewellery to colleges throughout the United States. During the Second World War, the United States Army tasked the company with producing military insignia.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: American Naval Officer's sweetheart brooch

    Assigned title: US Naval officer's sweetheart brooch

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