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Auction: 18002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 517


Sold by Order of a Gentleman of Milan

The manufacture of miniature badges for presentation by servicemen to their wives and sweethearts appears to have begun around the period of the South African War, 1899-1902.Those produced in base metal and frequently painted or enamelled have acquired the cognomen ‘Sweethearts’ Badges’ and nowadays attract specialist collectors. Such badges burgeoned in quantity during the First World War but appear to have declined in popularity by the mid-twentieth century.

The magnificent badges in this exceptional collection are not ‘Sweethearts’ Badges’ per se. While the sentiments motivating their gift were undoubtedly the same as those accompanying the less costly badges, badges such as these tended to be given by officers to the women in their lives. The precious metals and stones from which they are made reflect not only the characteristic difference in taste, depth of purse and social background between the ‘officer class’ and their men but also, perhaps, the expectations of their recipients. The manufacture of splendid and costly badges such as these seems to have been current by the time of the First World War and probably reached its apogee between the 1920s and the 1960s; some contemporary jewellers continue to make and sell such badges. The majority of these jewelled badges are based upon, or derived from, the relevant service or regimental headdress badge.


1. Badges such as these tended to be made, as were similar contemporary items of ‘civilian’ jewellery, in platinum and/or gold set with precious stones. Some of the badges in this collection are marked to indicate the type and quality of the metal involved but the majority are not. Therefore – unless it is marked as white gold – white metal is taken to be platinum and yellow metal to be gold; where marks can be discerned and interpreted, they are noted in the catalogue entries. Likewise, blue stones are taken to be sapphires, green stones to be emeralds and red stones to be rubies.

2. The badges here catalogued are arranged, first, in the order of precedence of the three British Armed Services and, second – in the Army section, to reflect the Order of Battle of the British Army.


In platinum, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and a sapphire, a Naval crown; the number 4363 engraved on the reverse; horizontal platinum brooch fitting; 17mm x 33mm.

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