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Victorian Jewelry 1837-1901

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Costume Jewelry Magazine


Victorian jewelry
is as complex in it’s symbolism, sentiment and design as the
fashion, architecture and decor of the time. Worn as an ornament, a love
token or a remembrance, jewelry not only completed the well-dressed
lady’s costume but also denoted her position in society, her marital
status and her sense of self.

Since the Victorian era stretched over six decades, many types of jewelry
came and went in style. Mass production made jewelry available to the
widest number of buyers in the broadest range of designs ever seen before
in history. When it came to formal occasions, the "more is better" theme
of the Victorian era carried over into how jewelry was worn by royalty and
the aristocracy. Paintings of Queen Victoria and other royals at state
occasions show multiple brooches, swags, earrings, bracelets and hair
ornaments. But the jewelry of the everyday folk is collectible,
fascinating and a lesson in history that enchants us even today.


Victorian Silver Jewelry

Victorian Silver Bracelets
Victorian Hair Jewelry
Victorian Photographic Jewelry

Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Brooches
Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Bracelets
Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Necklaces
Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Earrings

Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Hands Victorian Jet & Vulcanite Jewelry
Victorian Agate Jewelry
Victorian Rhinestone Jewelry

VICTORIAN garnet cabochons
brooch and earrings set in 14k yellow gold flowers and leaves, gilt backs, all
in original box marked "John Young, late Turnbull & Young, goldsmith & watch
maker, 1 & 3 Buchannan St., Glasgow", brooch 1-5/8" by 1-1/3", earrings body
only 7/8" by 3/4", total drop 1-1/4".
View #V34218

VICTORIAN scenic mosaic
links bracelet set in rolled gold, 6-1/4" by 1". Each link has a
different Italian scene created with tiny multi-colored tessera and each
is a work of art. In all probability this would have been a souvenir of
a grand Victorian era European tour.
View #V33684

VICTORIAN 14k yellow
gold pendant ivory oval cameo locket carved with roses, flowers and
leaves bouquet, frame decorated with pearls and rubies and a bird at the
top, photo of a lady wearing a brooch and engraved initials "I.R." on
the back, original box, 2-1/2" total by 1-1/3".
View #V34319


Whether fashioned
in the home as a lady’s craft or professionally by a hair weaver or a jewelry maker, hair
jewelry was the height of the romanticism and sentiment that characterized
the Victorian era. Some pieces were done as mourning pieces or "momento mori"
("remember you must die"). While some may find this morbid, for
the Victorians death was a common and accepted part of everyday life
especially due to
the higher infant mortality rate and the devastation of the Civil War.

Hair jewelry was not always mourning jewelry, however, as it was also
crafted as love tokens from sweethearts, family members and cherished
friends. Rings might be engraved with loving messages and memorials
either on the face or inside the band, and might also have hidden
compartments for the hair. Brooches came in all sizes from the
daintiest lace pin to a larger 3" oval meant to be worn at the neck. Watch
chains and bracelets often show the most ingenious hair weaving techniques with more
than one color of hair often used, as perhaps a chain given by three
daughters to their father.

Black was the color of mourning, and jet, vulcanite, bog oak and molded horn
were fashioned into socially accepted mourning jewelry. Black enameling was
a frequent element, as well as seed pearl accents

denoting tears, and flowers which carried a message, the
most obvious of which is the forget-me-not.

among collectors are engraved pieces, especially if dated; well-crafted
intricate pieces with unusual motifs; and pieces that might include
photographs or hand-painted portraits along with the encased lock of hair. As with all jewelry, condition is important with these delicate
treasures. Hair jewelry is difficult to effectively repair, so pieces in
excellent condition command a premium.

1840s 14 karat yellow gold and enameled brooch with plaited thick
blonde hair under glass with extended pin stem, "In Memory Of"
encircling frame, and engraved on back, 1-1/2" by 2":
Ms Buchannan, died 12th Nov 1843
John Wilson died 4th June 1843
Seen in Christie Romero’s "Warman’s Jewelry, 3rd Ed, page 35 and
Becker’s "Antique & Twentieth Century Jewelry" on page
It also was featured in Southeastern Antiquing &
Collecting Magazine
, August 2003.
View #V9521

VICTORIAN hair jewelry, a
14k yellow gold bracelet of fifteen tubular hollow links, each a
beautifully woven memento with varying tones of hair, and each link
inscribed with the source monogram of a different name or initials of
the person whose hair it is, probably a friendship piece. An
extremely rare and unusual piece, it is 6 3/4" wearable length x 1 1/2"
wide. This is probably the
loveliest token of friendship I have ever seen, and one of the most
unusual. I wonder what occasion prompted the making of this wonderful
memorial bracelet. It
is similar to one shown in the reprint of "The Art of Hair Work,
1875" by Mark
Campbell, page 285 and on page 30 of A.
Bernard & Co.
Catalogue, 1870.

VICTORIAN 14k yellow gold palette work
hair flower bouquet brooch set in a
gold with black Taille d’ Epergne enamel lover’s knot fashioned like bent twigs, circa
1880, 2". This is one of the loveliest frames I have ever seen on
a piece of hair jewelry and it has a compartment on the back as well. A hair
brooch similar to this can be seen in "Sentimental Jewelry" by Ann Louise Luthi page 15.
View #V29441

bracelet with a purple stone in the clasp. Four colors
of hair made up this bracelet, and was probably made by four daughters for
their mother. It is 7" long and 1-1/4" wide. #V1957

MEMORIAL hair ring
with pearl surround and blonde hair. Size 7-1/4 and engraved, " Joseph
Dixon died 16th Jan.y 1815 aged 50".

VICTORIAN gold and
enameled 1-7/8" hair brooch with "In Memory Of" encircling frame, engraved on back:

Ms Buchannan
died 12th Nov 1843
John Wilson died 4th June 1843


Size 1-7/8" by 1-1/2".

chalcedony, enamel and turquoise brooch with forget-me-not motif, 2".


What is more classic and timeless than a cameo? Though they long pre-date the
Victorian era, for Victorians who loved travel, a cameo might represent a meaningful souvenir of a Grand European Tour.
Both men and women worn cameos set as necklaces, brooch, rings and earrings
for women, and watch fobs, rings and stick pins for men. The Victorian
fascination with all things historic is demonstrated in the classical Greek
profiles and mythological motifs. Reflecting the Victorians love of
gardening and nature, floral cameos were also popular. Carved in seashell,
ivory, jet, lava or stone, cameos could be set in precious or non-precious
metals. Although thought of as primarily an Italian art, there were also
cameo carvers in America and other countries.

Quality and beauty of carving is the prime factor determining value,
but cameos set in precious metal ornamented with diamonds, seed pearls or
enameling are most desirable. Check condition by holding the cameo up to the
light to detect possible cracks.

CAMEOS are such
classic beauties. This one has tiny pink enameled butterflies on the
corners of the filigree frame.
View #U14728
three-quarter profile cameo is very deeply carved and the lady’s hair is
of rose blossoms!
CAMEO of a
lovely lady wearing a necklace and flowers.
CAMEO 14k cameo brooch in
enameled butterfly filigree setting, 1-7/8".
View #U23999

CAMEO with lovely seed
pearls surrounding the 14 karat setting. #U4001

CAMEO in 14 karat
twist setting… she has an anchor motif at her shoulder and a star in her

FLORAL bouquet cameo in
a 14 karat setting.


Interesting souvenir jewelry was purchased on Victorian travels.
Italian mosaics and pietra dura pieces, for example, were popular for decades, and can
still be purchased today. Older mosaic pieces tend to be more intricate and
well-made, and done in softer colors with greater detail. Travel souvenir pieces
were also made of Scottish agate or "pebbles", seashells, bog oak, and other
materials typical of their area of manufacture.

Historically inspired jewelry was prompted by the study of ancient
Pompeii, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and the motifs included designs from wall
paintings and excavated jewelry. Heavier
Renaissance and Medieval style jewelry combined well with the heavier
Victorian fashions as well, and later in the century, Oriental motifs
provided further inspiration.

Plant collecting was a passionate Victorian hobby, and natural motifs
were also reflected in jewelry. Amazing novelty jewelry was made of
everything from small real birds to beetles and other insects. Novel
was the way in which Victorians viewed this type of adornment. What we might think grotesque
today they saw as innovative, and reflective of their
interest in nature, science and leisure activities.

Jewelry could also be mechanically innovative, with moving parts and
trembling portions to attract the eye.
Advertising jewelry is rare, and one of the most unusual pieces of Victorian jewelry is this
advertising bracelet shown here below, evidentially promoting a Victorian era London clothier.

7" by 1" agate bracelet with an engraved plaque that
says, "AR Clothier. 111 London. Rd. Chippenham. WRCD 47/2". View
View #23382

Very unusual advertising bracelet.


floral 1" round pin in soft pastel colors.
View #Y18684

VICTORIAN gold tone pen,
pencil and lead holder with lovely hand engraved design, a presentation
piece dated 1892, in original box from "H. Pidduck & Sons Goldsmiths,
Hanley", with a bloodstone tip, 4"— from Royal Doulton family. This is
engraved as presented to "William Millward by the Throwers, turners,
handlers and friends of Messrs Doulton & Co Burslam. The throwers, turners,
handlers were a trade union type organization for factory workers in those
days. Doulton were a massive company and Royal Doulton pottery and ceramics
is very popular still today.

In the days before photography, a hand-painted portrait miniature was a
desirable keepsake or love token. While some of these miniature art works
were done of actual people including both royalty and everyday folks, others
were painted of mythological characters and idealized lovely ladies.
Mother-of-pearl, ivory and vellum were often used as paint surfaces.
Settings range from the simplest rolled gold twist frame brooch to gem
encrusted wonders. Artists who did portrait miniatures were called
"limners", and they did not only pieces for jewelry, but also work meant to
be framed for display, often in lacquered wood or ivory embellished frames.
Some traveled from city to city taking commissions as they went. Portraits
could be worn on velvet ribbons around the neck, as brooches, rings and
bracelets, and in lockets. Even men occasionally wore portraits suspended
around the neck under their shirts.

Many serious collectors prefer artist-signed pieces, lovely
ladies and children, and identifiable individuals. Portraits that combine
enclosures for hair or include an engraved notation are also sought after.

wearing a portrait brooch, cut steel buttons and diamond earrings. Cabinet
card size 4-1/4" by 6-1/2", marked "J. O. Herbert, Grand Rapids, Wis."

VICTORIAN lady wearing a portrait brooch.

wearing a portrait brooch and a watch chain with a ring as an ornament.
Cabinet card size 4-1/4" by 6-1/2" marked on the front "Younge, Over
Glenn’s, Franklin Square, Utica, NY".

wearing a portrait brooch and watch chain. Cabinet Card size 4-1/4" by
6-1/2" marked "Jacoby, Minneapolis" on the front.

This 2-3/4" hand painted portrait circa 1840 also has
a lock of hair on the back.

PORTRAIT 2-1/8" brooch
hand painted on porcelain in a twisted gold tone setting.
View #V23717

mother-of-pearl 1-5/8 inch brooch.

portrait brooch, 2-1/2". This lady dressed in plum is delicately hand
painted on a porcelain disk set into a twisted gold filled setting. Notice
the detail of the feather in her hat.
View #V22943


Photography was an invention of the Victorian era, and photographic
jewelry represented a permanent way to document beloved friends and family.
Since the opportunity to be photographed was not as prevalent as it is now,
a photo was a precious thing. Worn as brooches, cufflinks and pendants, these faces from the past were
often mounted in non-precious metals under crystal or celluloid covers
for protection.

Collectors especially appreciate pictures of lovely women and
children, Civil War soldiers and subjects wearing interesting clothing or
jewelry. Here again, the addition of engraving, especially dates and love
messages, makes the piece more interesting.

Great Aunt Mary and my Grandmother Agnes as young girls,
circa 1890’s. View

My very bearded great great grandfather, circa
1870. View

My favorite Aunt Sissie, circa 1900.

Photo brooch of three of my Victorian-era uncles.

The photos of these two unidentified gentlemen
made into cuff links.
VICTORIAN 1-3/4 inch
hair and photo memorial swivel brooch. Now this is the original odd
couple, and I love these unusual ones! The back compartment contains
very blond hair.
PHOTO graduate photo pin.

Well-dressed ladies often wore "long chains", sometimes looped and caught on the
bodice with a brooch, sometimes worn full length, and often holding a
lorgnette or watch. Chains were made with both precious and non-precious
metals, and could be extremely simple or ornamented with stones and seed
pearls. Some had slides, which have become collectible in their own right.
Today’s collectors create bracelets from them, as well as from fobs, button
covers and cuff link tops.

The lorgnettes in sterling and karat gold, those with lovely enameling or
gem stones, and those with a strong design sense (for example Art Nouveau or
Arts & Crafts) are most desirable. Some
collectors have their own prescription mounted into an old lorgnette so that
they are actually useable.

Could she wear more jewelry?
Multiple bracelets and rings are shown to their best advantage by her pose,
including a bracelet of polished agate stones.

Corset stays made this wasp-waisted dress possible, and the draping
watch chain highlights her small waist.

In addition to her decorative belt buckle, this lady wears a
long chain and hair earrings made in the shape of acorns.

Her long chain probably held a lorgnette at the end.

Lorgnette of
gold washed silver with enameling, semi-precious stones and pearls, 5-1/2" by
1-1/4". Tiny mark "800" on the glasses hinge. Circa 1900.

sterling lady face lorgnette, 4-3/4" by 1-1/2".

sterling Art Nouveau Iris motif, 5" by 1-1/4".
View #L20909

sterling with flower motif, 5-1/3" by 1-1/4".

tone bracelet with watch fobs as charms.

BRACELET made of
turn-of-the-century cuff link covers.


gold tone bracelet with crystal fobs as charms. #V10721

gold tone bracelet with watch fobs as charms.

During the Victorian period, from about 1860 to 1880, mourning jewelry was
the height of fashion and black was a stylish color. Made of jet, vulcanite,
bog oak or pressed horn, each might carry a special
meaning as a memento of a loved one. A brooch in the shape of a hand
carrying a bouquet conveyed a message symbolized by the flowers. Photos
might be housed inside lockets and watch fobs, and portraits hand painted on
porcelain disks mounted as pendants and earrings. While some black jewelry was meant to be worn
during mourning, black jewelry was fashionable as well, and worn for its
beauty and sentiment.

VICTORIAN lady wearing jet
mourning beads with her fancy hat laying on the table top before her. Carte
de visite size 2-1/2" by 4", marked on the back, "J. Raine, Portrait &
Landscape Photographer, Richmond, Yorkshire" with a roses and trellis

lady wearing a portrait pendant set in jet on a black neck ribbon and a bog
oak oval brooch at her neckline. Carte de visite size 2-1/2" by 4-1/4",
marked "R.P. Skeolan, Harrogate" on the front and "miniature painter" on the

wearing a vulcanite hand brooch on her lacy necklace and faceted jet
bracelet on her arm. Carte de visite size 2-1/2" by 4-1/8", marked W.J.
Wellsted & Son, 19 & 20 Paragon St, Hull on both front and back, and
"Photographers of the Prince & Princess of Wales" along with "Copies can
be had at any time or an enlargement finished in oil or watercolors" on
the back. Back also has a birds and bamboo design.

VICTORIAN vulcanite hand
holding rose for love brooch, 1-7/8".
View #V25194

VICTORIAN jet pendant with
painted lady portrait, 2".
View #V25926

VICTORIAN vulcanite hand
holding single flower pin, 1-3/4".
View #V25276

VICTORIAN vulcanite
hand brooch, 2-7/8", holding roses and forget-me-nots wreath laurel
sheaf symbolizing love victorious. Hallmarked on the back.
View #V8502

VICTORIAN vulcanite
hand holding fan pin, 2-1/3". Fans often referred to a
View #V25190


2" vulcanite hand brooch holding sheaf and wreath of roses, symbolic
of hope
and love.

VICTORIAN vulcanite
hand with lacy cuff holding basket pin, 2-1/3".
View #V25280

hand holding basket of fruit brooch, 3".
View #V25880

VICTORIAN vulcanite
hand with fluted cuff holding basket pin, 2-1/4".
View #V25279

VICTORIAN vulcanite
butterfly pin, 2". View #V25282

VICTORIAN Whitby jet
carved oval fern leaf brooch w/pendant loop, 1-3/4".
View #V25875

VICTORIAN vulcanite
fan pin, 2". View #V25283

VICTORIAN lady wearing strands
of jet beads. Carte de visite size 2-1/2" by 4", marked on the front
"Chancellor, Dublin" and on the back, "Patronized by TRH The Prince &
Princess of Wales; HRH Prince Arthur; HRH The Duke of Cambridge; HSH Prince
Teck" and more famous people, as well as the address, :55 Lower Sackville
Street, Dublin" and instructions for obtaining other images. View

wearing jet portrait locket on a black velvet ribbon and matching earrings. Carte
de visite size 4-1/8" by 2-1/2", marked "Inskip Photo, The Cliff, Scarboro"
with a Masonic emblem on the back.

wearing elaborate jet necklace and brooch. Carte de visite marked "March
1874" in pencil and "F. G. Earl, Photographic Artist, Worcester &

VICTORIAN vulcanite
locket with fuchsia flowers, 4 photo compartments, 2-1/8".
View #V25284

vulcanite 2" locket on 4-1/2" of chain.
View #V25357

VICTORIAN vulcanite
locket in ornate shield motif, 3-1/4".
View #V25285

vulcanite oval brooch covered in fuchsia flowers, symbol of humble love, 1-3/4".

pressed horn bracelet each piece patterned in diamond shapes, exp by 1" &
1-5/8". View
View #V25877

oak brooch, carved Gothic castle scene, 2"
View #V25881

jewelry and ornaments were popular
throughout the 1800’s, and the sparkle of these lovely pieces in candlelight
must have been something to behold. Motifs varied from the simple to the
sublime, the best with multiple layers and densely packed studs. Designs could be
enhanced by the use of varying sized studs as well. Each stud could have up
to 15 facets, and in general the finer and older the piece the more facets
the studs will have. Made in both England and Europe, this style of jewelry
fell out of favor by the turn of the 19th century, but it is still a
favorite of mine.

View #V25842

cut steel set circa 1860, the necklace is 18" by 1-1/3",
the bracelet 7" by 1-1/3", circa 1850. View
View #V25841

cut steel horseshoe pin, 1-1/8". View

Photographs from the Victorian age demonstrate how jewelry was worn, and
how it related to the fashions of the time. Some pieces, like bars pins,
were common accessories and can be found fairly easily today. Others, like
full parures (sets of necklace, bracelet, brooch, earrings and sometimes a
ring) are much more difficult to obtain. Old catalogs and jewelry flyers
are a source for dating and identifying jewelry, and can be a collectible
category in their own right.

Whether a family heirloom or a recent find, Victorian
jewelry continues to fascinate collectors and jewelry lovers alike. The
sentiment, history, craftsmanship and whimsy lures new collectors and
historians to this day. People treasured these wonderful echoes of
the past, and we are fortunate that so many of them have been handed down to
our generation to wear, protect and enjoy.

Reclining ladies pose at an outdoor picnic wear simple
jewelry, including the often seen bar pins.

A beautifully hand appliquéd jacket with a ruffle peeking
above the neck, a bar pin and a butterfly ornamenting her hair.

Bar pins came in many styles and sizes, and were a staple of
the jewelry wardrobe.

Lockets and lace pins were and are a sentimental
favorite that never go out of style.

VICTORIAN 14k bar pin, 2".
It looks like a "nanny" pin, but does not open that I can see.

9k seed pearl and purple unidentified stone bar pin with
safety, 2".
View #V23373

VICTORIAN BAR PIN with red and
blue stones and pearl, 2 1/4" wide. An etched scene adorns the front of this
marvelous piece.
View. #V5154

sterling 2" ornate bows and ivy leaves bar pin hallmarked
Chester, England, 1900-1. #V13432
View #V13432

VICTORIAN sterling
hallmarked 1-5/8" round brooch marked "D&LS" as the maker.

View #V18647

ornate bows and ivy leaves
View #V13421

DECORATED links 14k
7-inch long bracelet with aqua enameling, a diamond center, and a chain
slide-style safety, circa 1895. #V20328

rectangular shape with seed pearl, circa 1860-1880. View

coral was believed to ward off bad health. This bracelet
is four strands and 7" long. the watch hooked brooch is 1-1/2" and smaller
one is 3/4". The earrings are 7/8" screw backs, and the ring is size 7.


carved ivory name brooch, "Jane".

Many pieces similar to those I photographed for the cover and the Victorian article of the
July, 2003 can be purchased here:



"Sentimental Jewelry" by Ann Louise Luthi
"Jet Jewellery" by Helen & Katy Muller
"Warman’s Jewelry, 3rd Ed" by Christie Romero
"The Art of Hair Work, 1875" by Mark