by Amanda

Victorian Jewellery

The Victorian era was a period of great growth in technology, industry, fashion and clothing! Inspired largely by the monarch, Queen Victoria, fashions during these times were prudish, simple and largely functional - in comparison to the opulence and extravagance of times passed. With ever-developing trade routes, and the expansion of the British Empire across the globe, Victorian jewellery and fashion designers had access to a whole new array of precious metals and gems.

18ct Yellow Gold Victorian Insect Brooch With Turquoise, Seed Pearls And RubiesIvory pendant with flower motifVictorian ring set with turquoise and pearls

Victorian Jewellery can be divided into three distinct periods: Romantic, Grand, and Late or Aesthetic. These can be well-defined by their fashion and jewellery styles:

  • The Romantic period was one punctuated by the marriage of a young Queen Victoria to her beloved Albert, whom she loved deeply! The population felt happy and optimistic as the country developed and grew into a global superpower. Jewellery featured hearts and was heavily influenced by nature, often detailed with flowers and tree motifs. Precious metals became regulated and the quality improved.
  • The mid-Victorian era, in stark contrast to the earlier years, was overshadowed by the deaths of two of Queen Victoria's greatest loves - her mother and her dear husband, Albert. With their monarch in mourning, the nation followed suit, and with this somber mood, fashion and jewellery trends changed. Lockets became popular and were used to cherish the memory of a loved one - either with an image or a lock of hair. Black and other moody, dark colours became the norm, and with this, dark stones and materials like onyx, jet and vulcanite were used.
  • Towards the end of the Victorian age, around the 1890's, life began to lighten up once again, and people were reflective and optimistic. The mood became lighter, as did jewellery and accessories. Earrings became popular as hairstyles revealed the ears, and brooches became fashionable. Well-loved stones included amethyst, turquoise and peridot - the colours reflecting a more positive outlook on life and the future!

With the advent of high quality precious metals, and the need to hold manufacturers responsible for their workmanship, the hallmark was introduced. This was a small mark, or symbol, discreetly placed in order to identify the jewellery's maker, origin and quality/purity of the precious metal used.

The style and feeling of Victorian Jewellery reflected the mood and feelings of the monarch and her the nation. Varying from opulent and romantic, to somber and subdued, jewellery from this period is cherished by all who are privileged enough to own some.

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Trends | Victorian
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