Flower Power

The botanical motif in jewelry

"Flowers are timeless and universal in their appeal," SAYS Barbara Macklowe of New York's Macklowe Gallery. "The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, and Japanese all used flowers in their art, and art and jewelry have always had similar themes." Her son and partner, Benjamin, agrees. "The Victorians were captivated by nature; you can see it in their paintings and furniture as well as their jewelry. And they weren't afraid to go a little far with things. Today's stones may be better, but modern designs are timid by comparison." And, Barbara adds, "with the current interest in gardening, the botanical motif in jewelry is more popular than ever. Nothing looks as fresh as a floral brooch on a young woman." For example, a ca. 1850s topaz daisy brooch with diamonds set in silver-topped gold ($19,000) from Macklowe Gallery, 212-644-6400; Jean Schlumberger's platinum and 18-karat gold Branch of Orchids clip set with sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds ($57,000) from Tiffany & Co., 800-526-0649; a ca. 1870 diamond and ruby orchid brooch mounted en tremblant in silver and gold ($72,500) from Kentshire Galleries, 212-673-6644; a pansy brooch of sapphires, diamonds, and 18-karat gold ($15,680) by Jean Vitau for GemLok, 800-221-1299 or 800-442-4210; a ca. 1930 platinum, diamond, and emerald lilac brooch ($65,000) from Stephen Russell, 212-570-6900.