WWI Era Bedfordshire Regiment Sweetheart Brooch.
During the course of the Great War, servicemen leaving home for the front line had to say goodbye to those they loved, and often left gifts and keepsakes for those they’d be missing. One popular gift was a small brooch depicting the service crest or regimental badge of the soldier in question. This gift was intend for soldiers to show that their home and their families would be in their hearts during their absence. The name ‘sweetheart’ can be misleading here, as it suggests that the item was only given to those in intimate relationships, but this isn’t the case. This was given to anyone the soldier would be leaving behind; therefore this could be their wife, parents, and even children. If it was given to a wife or a girlfriend, it was worn by that woman as a symbol of their pride and regard for their soldier.
The brooches themselves were small, and fitted with pins so that they could be worn on a blouse or a lapel. The style originated from the cap badges of a regiment or corps, and such brooches were first issued during the Boer war in Africa, twenty years before World War I. The year 1915 is the most common for First World War brooches.
As sweetheart brooches became increasing popular, jewellers saw the opportunity for profit and started producing them commercially. These brooches were usually smaller than the original service badges, and made from finer metals such as gold or silver rather than coloured base metals; some were embellished with precious stones.