Jennifer Carnell

I've been interested in Scottish agates and Victorian Scottish pebble jewellery ever since I inherited my Scottish grandmother's bracelet.

Rodger Family Bracelet.

It was probably made in the 1850s and had belonged to Mary Bruce Rodger's family who, during the Victorian period, lived in Edinburgh on her father's side. Her mother's family were the Wright family from Greenock in Renfrewshire and the Bruce family from Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Boddam in Aberdeenshire. However, the bracelet came from the more affluent Edinburgh side of the family. Mounted in silver, and backed with hardstone or granite, it includes a variety of agates and has a matching padlock.

An early Scottish Burn Anne agate brooch dating from the Georgian period. It was probably made in the 1790s or even earlier.

An 1840s Scottish agate brooch with a silver back made by an Edinburgh jeweller. This jeweller had his own workship in Edinburgh and the brooch has a silver back.
Scottish pebble jewellery was boosted in popularity by the patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and some pieces were exhibited by jewellers at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

An 1850s ambrotype photograph of a young woman wearing a Scottish agate garter brooch.

A close-up of the distinctive shape of the brooch.

A Scottish agate garter brooch with a finely engraved silver setting and a 'cairngorm' stone. Most 'cairngorm' stones are really citines or glass.

A Scottish pebble brooch with stones including jasper and Burn Anne. Like many Scottish brooches it is mounted in silver and backed with slate.

An 1850s glass ambrotype photograph of a young Edinburgh woman wearing a Scottish agate brooch.

A close-up image of her brooch, showing a variety of agates.

The shape of setting for this brooch was a common design and was used throughout the Victorian period to display a wide variety of stones.

An Indian lady in England wearing a similar agate brooch. This is an ambrotype taken in the late 1850s.

A close-up of the brooch in the ambrotype.

A photograph of Mrs. Pringle, taken in Mysore in India in 1858, wearing two Scottish agate bracelets.

A close-up showing the two bracelets.

A photograph of Mrs. Robinson, taken in Mysore in India in 1858, wearing a Scottish agate bracelet.

A closeup of Mrs. Robinson's bracelet.

A large pastel portrait of a lady wearing an agate brooch. Signed H. Wilkin, the painting was painted in 1846 by pastel and miniature artist Henry Wilkin (1801-1852) at 20 Newman Street in London.

A close-up of the lady's brooch in the painting.

A gold Scottish agate brooch with montrose, Burn Anne, green jasper (bloodstone) and red jasper. This is a more common design and uses smaller pieces of stone. It was probably made in the 1860s or 1870s in Birmingham. Birmingham was the centre of jewellery manufacturing in England and as mass production became to dominate the industry, less was made in Scotland.

A carte de visite of a woman in London wearing a Scottish agate brooch in 1860 or 1861.

A close-up of her brooch.

A carte de visite of a teenage girl called Mary wearing a Scottish agate brooch, taken in about 1861.

Mary's Scottish agate brooch, worn at the neck.

An early daguerreotype photograph from about 1850 showing a woman wearing a brooch made of a single agate mounted in gold or gold plate with gold earrings and necklace.

A close-up of the agate sample in the daguerreotype.

A Scottish agate brooch made by jewellers G. & M. Crichton of Princes Street, Edinburgh.

A Tayport moss agate brooch, probably dating from the 1830s or 1840s.

A close-up of the Tayport agate.

A very early Georgian agate brooch with a silver surround made to resemble cut steel.

Early Scottish jewellery did not always include agates. Finely engraved silver brooches were set with clear rock crystal and backed with tinted foil to resemble a cairngorm stone (the real stone being in short supply).
This example was probably made in the 1820s or 1830s.

A late Victorian Scottish brooch with pink and grey granite.
In Aberdeen jewellery was made from Aberdeen and Peterhead granite and makers included Rettie.

A Burne Anne agate from Ayreshire in its natural state.

An agate from Usan near Montrose, Angus.

Scottish agates were also also used in items other than jewellery, including snuff boxes, pen trays and decorative ornaments. As far as items of jewellery go, the most popular seem to have been brooches and bracelets, although earrings and cufflinks were also manufactured.

Scottish Agates Bibliography:
Nick Crawford, Scottish Pebble Jewellery: Its History and the Materials from Which it Was Made (Lapidary Stone Publications, 2007).
Nick Crawford and David Anderson Scottish Agates (Lapidary Stone Publications, 2010).
H.G. Macpherson, Agates (NMSE, 1989).

For more Scottish agate jewellery and historic Scottish jewellery, click here.


Victorian agate and hardstone jewellery was not only made in Scotland. Often mistaken for Scottish workmanship, jewellery was also made in Devon, Cornwall and Derbyshire.
The materials used included Devon fossils, Ashford marble from Derbyshire, Devon marbles, imported malachite and other regional marbles and hardstones.

This is an example of a hardstone, Devon marble and fossil brooch, and was made in Torquay.
One distinctive feature in Devon marble jewellery is the use of fossils, including fossilised coral.

Malachite, Ashford marble and Devon fossils.
The Devon pieces were made for a shorter period than Scottish pebble jewellery, paperweights, rulers, thermometers, tables and other large items were also produced.

To see more examples of Devon marble pieces from my collection click here.


A Cotham marble brooch from Bristol in Somerset.
Cotham Picture Marble is also known as Landscape Marble.

A Dulcote agate necklace from Somerset. Dulcote agate is also known as potato stone.

A Cornish serpentine brooch from Cornwall.

Click here to see more Torquay and Devon Marble Jewellery & Other Items

To see more Scottish jewellery click here, Scottish Agate Jewellery Page 2

Back to The Sensation Press Main Index

Written, owned & maintained by Jennifer Carnell:

Copyright © 2005 - 2017, The Sensation Press, All Rights Reserved.

The Sensation Press
United Kingdom