Victorian jewelry was created during the reign of Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. There are several distinct trends in Victorian jewellery that were established during this time. Here are a few. Victorian jewelry was popular during the Romantic and Aesthetic periods. Some pieces have Egyptian Revival elements.
The Romantic Period was a time of great change in the world, and Victorian jewelry was no exception. In addition to showcasing an elegantly detailed metalwork, Victorian jewelry was often adorned with secret messages. Many pieces were crafted with gemstones to spell out a lover’s name or other symbol. Other pieces were created to commemorate the loss of a loved one. These include painted lockets and pieces made of the deceased’s hair.
Romantic Period Victorian jewelry often featured precious stones such as coral, lava stone, and tortoiseshell. Some pieces featured motifs such as eyes and hand. Other gemstones, like pearls, were popular in this period. Many pieces also featured seed pearls. Large gold ornaments with enamel work were also popular during this time.
Victorian jewelry was created in many styles, colors, and materials. The changes in the social climate of England, particularly the development of a wealthy middle class, sparked a demand for quality pieces. Care was required to preserve these pieces of jewelry. Victorian jewelry can be grouped into three distinct styles. Understanding these distinct styles helps you accurately date and classify your Victorian jewelry.
Fashions during the Romantic Period reflected the desire to romanticise the past. Many of the pieces featured themes inspired by exotic cultures. In addition, many pieces featured mourning jewels, which were popular sentimental mementos.
The Aesthetic Period of Victorian jewelry marked a transition from the grand and opulent aesthetic of the Grand Period to a simpler style of jewelry. While diamonds were still the center of attention, jewelry of this era also became lighter and smaller. A variety of semi-precious stones, such as chrysoprase, quartz, and aquamarine, also found favour in Aesthetic Period jewelry.
Fashion, literature, and art flourished during the Aesthetic Period. The Victorians began to appreciate the handicrafts of the Middle Ages and turned to more artistic and refined tastes. Artists such as William Morris sought to preserve the spirit of the Middle Ages during the industrial revolution. They formed two groups – the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society and the Art Workers’ Guild. Both groups aimed to gain public attention by exhibiting their work in public.
The Aesthetic Period encompasses the years 1880-1901. The Aesthetic period began as a reaction to the ostentatious styles of the Middle Victorian Grand Period. Victorians had grown weary of the stiffness and materialism of the Grand Period, and sought more refined pieces of jewelry.
The Aesthetic Period saw the popularity of Egyptian-styled jewelry rise. In 1886, Sarah Bernhardt wore an Egyptian-inspired necklace set in silver. This inspired a renewed interest in Egyptian-styled jewelry. Indian jewelry also gained popularity, following eye-catching displays at the Great Exhibition of 1886. But English jewelers were careful not to replicate the Indian pieces, as the symmetry and precision of Indian jewelry appealed to those who desired a fresher look.
The Victorian period saw a resurgence in interest in ancient Egyptian culture and jewelry, and Egyptian Revival jewelry was no exception. The popularity of this style of jewelry was stimulated by the Suez Canal, which connected the Mediterranean and Red Seas in 1869. This discovery opened the door to new travel opportunities and a surge in interest in Egyptian culture. In addition, the discovery of the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, which contained the remains of a former Egyptian pharaoh, stirred interest in Egypt and jewelry, and inspired designers such as Tiffany, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels to create Egyptian-inspired pieces.
The Egyptian Revival style was also inspired by Victorian era archaeological discoveries. Victorian revival jewelry often featured the scarab, an ancient amulet and symbol of rebirth and afterlife. Victorian adventurers may have discovered this pendant while exploring ancient ruins on the Nile. In addition, Victorian jewelry often featured decorative elements and intricate metalwork.
As the popularity of Egyptian jewelry grew, the styles of Egyptian jewelry spread across Europe. While some Egyptian pieces were for women only, other pieces were unisex and for both sexes. For example, earring designs honoring the goddess Isis often used tourmaline, which is believed to originate from earth.