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Victorian Jewellery

1837-1901

 

Victorian lady
Much like us modern day souls, people in Victorian Britain were both sentimental and materialistic. In 1837, eighteen year old Victoria was crowned Queen and she became a huge influence of her time. What she loved, the country loved. And this extended to her fashion and her jewellery.
This is a gold-tone snake bracelet with an accompanying box owned by Catherine Dickens from around the 1840s - 1850s.

Early Victorian jewellery was heavily influenced by romanticism, symbolism and naturalism. Victoria's love of religion, her husband and nature and in particular the Scottish landscape, was reflected in many designs of the day. Bracelets made of silver with stones from Scotland were popular, as were floral spray brooches, tendrils, leaves and tiny flowers. The serpent necklace and bracelet flourished in this early period to signify eternity, as did crosses for faith, anchors for hope, hearts for charity and a plethora of other motifs.

Sentimental jewellery from a loved one's hair or even their teeth remained as popular as in Georgian times. Mourning jewellery flourished and the jet industry in Whitby struggled to keep up with demand. Early Victorians were fascinated with the Middle Ages and Gothic revival jewellery followed suit.

Castellani Brooch c. 1870

By the middle of the Victorian era, Victoria's values shifted from the romantic to the solid and sensible. It was an era of exploration, prosperity and endeavour and jewellery became heavily influenced by the archaeological finds of the time; in particular gold wire-work and granulation inspired by ancient Etruscan discoveries. Nature continued to fascinate Victorians and insect brooches were popular; real wildlife was incorporated into jewellery in ways which would never been deemed acceptable today.

By the of the Victorian period, mass production had taken over the jewellery market. Discoveries in South Africa meant that diamonds had become abundantly available for those that could afford them, as had coloured stones, gold and silver. It was at this time that sport and recreational activities were an increasingly important part in people's lives, and novelty brooches and pins revolving around these activities were manufactured a-plenty.

It was against this back drop of industrialised, mass produced jewellery that the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements appeared. And by the end of the 19th century, jewellery design would become revolutionised upon the invention of a torch that could melt platinum quickly and effectively. And it's here that we move onto Edwardian jewellery