Antique Mexican Fire Opal Stickpin has a solitary fire opal stone atop a 14k gold stem.
A few examples of fire opal exhibit “play-of-color” such as this antique stickpin. These specimens have both the fiery background color of a fire opal and the play-of-color of a precious opal. Some people call these special stones “precious fire opal”. The play-of-color can be tiny bright flashes of color when the opal is played under light, or a billowing glow contained within the stone.
Stick pins are pins similar to small dressmaker pins, except that they are longer and often have quite ornamental tops to them. Scarf and Stick Pins have been popular for well over 200 years, dating back to the 18th century, where they were worn by gentlemen of the establishment.
As they became more popular, they began being worn by both men and women, either on lapels, ties, or scarves. Most of the later vintage designs were made between 1880-1920. Many of the major vintage jewelry designers made stick pins as part of their jewelry lines.
The practice of wearing stickpins was first done as a practical measure. Much of the neckwear of the times was quite voluminous and stickpins were a way of keeping the tie in place, keeping the wearer warm, and even keeping food from getting down into the shirt of careless eaters!
As the fashion of wearing stickpins grew, it gave jewelers of the day an open canvas for creativity. The first designs were quite simple and were made with just a few clusters of stones or sometimes just plain gold. Later designs were much more daring, with intricate designs, not only in the head of the pin but in the adornment of it with fine jewels.
The stick pin is sometimes mistakenly called a Hat Pin. While the designs of the two are similar – an ornamental top on a long single pin stem – the length of the pin is the main difference between the two. Hat pins have much longer stems and normally have glass beads or Rondelle rhinestone tops. Stick pins have a shorter pin and the top is normally more thematic in styling, i.e. monogram, figurals, flowers, etc. Also, stick pins often have closing caps for the bottom and hat pins normally do not.