The Victorian era was one of the most sentimental jewelry eras and one of the longest as it lasted from 1838 to 1900, the years of Queen Victoria of England's reign.
During the Victorian era, jewelry was highly symbolic with ivy and hearts symbolizing love, two snakes signifying eternal love, and an anchor representing hope. Prince Albert, a widely popular prince and the great love of Queen Victoria's life gave her a snake ring upon their engagement.
The Victorian era, being a very lengthy era, is almost too diverse to encapsulate, so I will just mention a few of the most popular trends:
It was fashionable to bestow a lock of one's hair on a loved one, who could hide it in a compartment of a brooch, watch fob, ring or locket. It also became popular to weave it into great lengths, creating bracelets, necklaces, watch chains and even earrings. The Victorian's believed hair jewelry was the ultimate in sentimental intimacy. Later, as the Queen and country mourned the passing of Prince Albert, hair jewelry gained great popularity in mourning jewelry, as it was a way to hold a piece of one's deceased loved one close.
In the 1840's, people could, for the first time, sit for a photograph, which, like a lock of hair, could be shared with a love one. Always set under a glass, these daguerreotypes helped popularize the locket, as they were the perfect size for these beautiful pendants.
A descendent of the Stuarts, Queen Victoria was proud of her Scottish roots, popularizing the tartan. With it, beautiful Scottish jewelry was popularized, particularly bracelets and pins. These pieces are rich works of silver, embellished with moss agate, bloodstone, carnelian and cairngorm (a beautiful variety of smoky quartz).
The ultimate Italian souvenir was a beautifully carved cameo brooch. Gorgeously carved, cameos were made out of onyx, agate & sardonyx stones as well as beautiful shell and even the lava of Mt. Vesuvius. The quality of stone was important but even more important was the beauty of the carving as these cameos were often true works of art.
With the death of Prince Albert, came a long period of mourning, in which women found beautiful ways to express themselves even amidst grief. With it came stunning mourning jewelry. Beautiful black jet beads and crosses. Exquisite enamel, bloodstone and sardonyx rings.
During the 1870's, Pompeii's tomb was excavated, creating a desire for Etruscan inspired jewelry. With beautiful gold granulation work and accent stones of Persian turquoise, these pieces were often exotic and always beautiful.
These are just a smattering of the wonderful trends that made the Victorian era one of the richest jewelry eras. Coral, cut steel, stacked Bracelets, bookmark chains and long ropes of chain were also fantastic Victorian fashions.
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