Victorian Era - Antique 18ct Gold - Ruby & Diamond Ring. front on

A Journey Through Victorian Era Jewellery

The Victorian era, spanning the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901, is renowned for its profound impact on fashion and culture, with jewellery being no exception. This period witnessed a remarkable evolution in jewellery design, reflecting the socio-cultural changes and personal milestones of Queen Victoria's life. From romantic symbolism to intricate craftsmanship, Victorian jewellery remains a testament to timeless elegance and historical significance.


Early Victorian Period (1837-1860): Romantic and Sentimental

The early Victorian period, also known as the Romantic Period, was heavily influenced by Queen Victoria's deep love for her husband, Prince Albert. Jewellery from this era is characterised by its sentimental and romantic motifs. Pieces often featured hearts, flowers, and snakes, the latter symbolising eternity and everlasting love. Lockets and brooches were popular, often containing locks of hair or miniature portraits, serving as intimate keepsakes.

Gold was the metal of choice, frequently adorned with colourful gemstones such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. The use of enamel, a method where powdered glass was fused onto metal, added vibrant colours and intricate designs to jewellery. Cameos and intaglios, carved gemstone or shell pieces, also became fashionable, often depicting classical scenes or portraits.



Mid-Victorian Period (1860-1885): Mourning and Sentimentality

The mid-Victorian period, or the Grand Period, saw a shift in jewellery design following Prince Albert's death in 1861. Queen Victoria's prolonged mourning profoundly influenced jewellery trends, with black becoming the dominant colour. Mourning jewellery, made from jet, onyx, and other dark materials, became prevalent. These pieces often featured sombre motifs such as weeping willows, urns, and angels.

Despite the sombre tone, this period also saw the use of amethysts, garnets, and pearls, often set in intricate gold designs. The craftsmanship became more detailed, with an emphasis on elaborate metalwork and filigree. Lockets and brooches continued to be popular, often incorporating hairwork or sentimental inscriptions.


Late Victorian Period (1885-1901): Aesthetic and Art Nouveau Influence

The late Victorian period, also known as the Aesthetic Period, marked a return to more whimsical and ornate designs. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, jewellery became more accessible, with mass production allowing for a broader range of styles. This era was influenced by the Aesthetic Movement, which celebrated beauty and artistic expression.

Jewellery designs became more eclectic, incorporating elements from nature, such as birds, insects, and flowers. The influence of the Art Nouveau movement introduced flowing lines and organic shapes, with a focus on naturalism and asymmetry. Materials like tortoiseshell, ivory, and coral were used alongside traditional gemstones.

Diamonds gained popularity during this time, particularly after the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa. They were often used in cluster settings, creating a dazzling effect. Multi-gemstone pieces and colourful enamelling also became fashionable, reflecting the era's love for vibrant and diverse designs.


Legacy of Victorian Jewellery

Victorian jewellery is highly collectible today, valued not only for its beauty but also for its historical and sentimental significance. Each piece tells a story, offering a glimpse into the social customs, technological advancements, and artistic trends of the 19th century. Whether it's a romantic locket from the early Victorian period, a sombre mourning brooch from the mid-Victorian era, or an ornate necklace from the late Victorian period, these pieces continue to captivate and inspire.

For modern enthusiasts, Victorian jewellery offers a unique blend of elegance and history, making it a timeless addition to any collection. Whether you're drawn to the romantic symbolism, the intricate craftsmanship, or the rich historical context, Victorian jewellery remains a testament to an era of profound beauty and cultural significance.

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