Fine Victorian Jewelry

Victorian is simply a term meaning "during the reign of Queen Victoria", or 1837 through 1901, the lengthiest reign of any British monarch. Many influences were popular during that period: Orientalism, Etruscan Revival, and Gothic Revival. Symbolism in jewelry was qutie prevalent- for example the "regards" ring, in which the stones chosen would spell out the word: Ruby Emerald Garnet Amethyst Ruby Diamond Sapphire.

Queen Victoria was the trendsetter for fashion and jewelry for women: for instance, her wedding ring of choice was a serpent twining around her finger. The snake was thought to represent eternity, true love, wisdom and good luck; interestingly it was free of the negative connotations we today would associate with such a fashion choice. Nature inspired themes were found in jewelry throughout the period, as well as romantic themes.

Acorns symbolized fertility and immortality. The buckle (a very common theme in jewelry of the time) meant self-defence, strenth and protection. Coral was thought to promote good health and longevity, and was quite commonly worn by children. Fleur-de-lis, as well as the iris or lily which it a stylized version of, symbolized light and hope. Forget-me-nots were for undying love. Violet was for shy modesty and virtue. An anchor in mourning jewelry often indicated a loved one lost at sea, and also indicated the "anchor" of faith.

Gold wire work and filigree gained popularity in the mid 1800s. Semi precious stones were used frequently in Victorian jewelry too, as they made the items more affordable to the newly-emerging middle class. New, large diamond deposits were discovered in 1867 too, so diamonds were no longer the exclusive province of the ultra wealthy.

Victoria's husband Albert died unexpectedly in 1861, plunging the Queen into deep mourning- as always, British women followed her fashion lead. Hair jewelry became common. Hair jewelry is usually either a discreet braided lock of hair hidden in a locket, or a whole piece made of intricately woven hair. Jet, onyx, and black enamel were used extensively as well.

Cameos were worn by women for the whole of the Victorian period, as they were a favorite of the Queen. Cameos are typically carved in Italy of shell, in relief rather than intaglio. The best ones were usually "convertible" meaning there is a hidden flip loop that converts the brooch into a pendant. While many show a woman in profile there, not every cameo does. The ones depicting Classical themes, like Roman or Greek Gods and Goddesses, are quite desirable with collectors today. Also the more detail and better carved the cameo, the better it is. Interestingly you can get a loose idea of the date of manufacture by looking at the nose. Pert, upturned noses are typically mid to latter 20th century. Larger Roman type profiles were Victorian generally. Other materials one finds cameos constructed of are lava and coral, both of which are hard to find.

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This is a beautiful example of a Classical themed cameo c. 1870s. Set in buttery yellow 18K gold (tested, no mark). Has safety clasp w/ blue stone. Convertible, 2.75 inches. Possibly Diana (note crescent moon) and maybe Persephone- looks like she's crowned w/ pomegranates. $5000, space 83.

This lovely cuff bracelet is solid 14K gold, tested not marked, c.1860-1870. Three cabochon garnets, one surrounded with seed pearls. Hinged. Priced at $2500, space 178.

While I believe this ring is most likely c.1920s-1930s, this style (now known as "bypass") was one of the most popular wedding ring styles of the Victorian era. The two stones in one ring represented the union of two people becoming one- diamonds were atypical, usually it would be the birthstones of the bride and groom. This ring features a half carat total of Old European Cut diamonds, my guesstimate is they're K/L color. Clarity is not bad, they look clean and sparkly to the eye. Size 6 approximately. $1000, sp 83.

These earrings are gold filled, with seed pearls and garnets. Decorated with black enamel as well. Arrow motif, which as best I can gather was likely a symbol of love. Most likely these were mourning, as black enamel and garnets were typical of mourning jewelry, and seed pearls symbolized tears. These have French wires for pierced ears, possibly a later addition. Priced at $395, sp 178.

Pretty 15K gold bracelet marked Birmingham. Small gypsy set diamond. Has safety chain. $395  space 178.

2.5 inch cameo of the three Graces. probably c.1910. Detailed 14K white gold filigree setting, with butterfly at top and bottom. Convertible. $950, space 83.

Queen Victoria loved Scotland and things Scottish, creating a fad for jewelry from Scotland and Scottish themes. Agate jewelry ("pebble jewelry") were common Scottish souvenirs. This 1870s Scottish manufacture striated grey agate brooch is shaped like a claymore sword and is hand engraved on the sterling. Space 20.

This 3 inch cameo is probably from the '40s or '50s (note the smaller upturned nose). Has new style safety clasp. The carving is exquisite- there are grape vines twined in her hair. Set in 14K gold, marked. Priced at $1650, space 83.

Another Scottish souvenir pin. This is shaped like a dirk, setting is 9K gold. Yellow stone is citrine, red is agate, green is bloodstone. Has a safety chain. Priced at $260, space 20.

These are coral cameos set into screw-back earrings. Seed pearl accents. Solid 14K gold. Note the beautiful wire-work on these- very Victorian. Priced at $650, space 178.

Rose cut diamond and turquoise brooch. Probably c.1890s, though it has a new pin back c.1918. The picture shows the turquoise pretty true to it's greenish color. Unusual tulip motif as the setting. The border setting color is silver (metal unknown) and the center is yellow gold (metal unknown).  Space 20.

Beautiful yellow gold base with platinum top crucifix. Set with diamonds and rubies, c.1900. Amazingly delicate millgrain work. Comes with platinum chain. $2955 space 20.

This locket c.1890 is solid sterling and the beautiful design  is hand engraved. Birmingham hallmark on back. Heavy chain. No picture inside but one could easily be added. Space 20.

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