Jewelry History

Jewelry Styles: Victorian Period

Period: 1837-1901

Characteristics:

  • Symbolism: hands, hearts, crosses, knots
  • birds, flowers, trees, insects, snakes; the language of flowers is used in the jewelry
  • Scottish style – jewelry with a variety of natural stones
  • stones: smoky gold quartz, carnelian, bloodstone, jasper, moss agate, turquoise
  • dark materials for mourning jewelry: agate, onyx, black glass, dark red garnet, cast iron
  • yellow gold, silver-plated gold
  • stones, corresponding to the month of birth

In the 19th century, jewelry manufacturing developed along with other areas due to technological advances, the expansion of trade and the growth of the middle class. England was the center of industry, science and culture. The country set the tone for Europe, and the fashion for jewelry was dictated by Queen Victoria herself.

For the first time, people were so eager to emulate the monarch. The royal family embodied the ideal of love, duty and morality. Victoria and Prince Albert loved each other wholeheartedly, a rarity in dynastic marriages.

As for fashion, Victoria adored jewelry and willingly displayed her collection. Images in newspapers and magazines inspired jewelers to create similar pieces and people to buy them. A study of portraits of the time shows that women copied Victoria’s jewelry and gowns with precision.

In 1851 Albert sponsored the Great Exhibition of Industrial Works of All Nations in London. The era of international exhibitions began. Experiences were exchanged there, deals were made and trade relations were established. This stimulated the development of the jewelry industry as well.

Thanks to such an exhibition in 1886, Europe became acquainted with the company Tiffany and its luxurious diamond jewelry.

The Victorian period is known for the cult of death – increased attention to the theme of death, dying and funeral paraphernalia. It was reflected in all spheres of life and had a special embodiment in jewelry.

Its outburst began with the death of Queen Mary Louise Victoria’s mother in 1861. Six months later, Prince Albert died as well. These events caused Victoria and the entire country to grieve deeply.

During mourning, dark clothing and discreet jewelry were to be worn. To emphasize the existential experience in design, jewelers turned to the Gothic and Renaissance.

By the end of the 19th century jewelry gradually returns to a light romanticism. Thanks to a passion for travel to exotic countries, a variety of reptiles, animals and insects appeared on clothing. Sometimes the jewelry and accessories are created from the animals themselves.

The exploration of South Africa and the Americas discovered deposits of sapphires, emeralds, peridots and spinels, which also gained popularity over time.

Characteristic jewelry:

One of Queen Victoria’s favorite stones was turquoise. Therefore, pieces studded with turquoise beads are often found among Victorian jewelry. As a rule, these are birds, crescents, and stars.