The Victorian Era
The Victorian Era spanned some 64 years starting around 1837 and ending just after the turn of the twentieth century in 1901. The era can be broken down into three different style periods the first being the Romantic Period dating from 1837 to 1861. The second is known as the Grand Period from 1861 to 1880 and finally, the last period is known as the Aesthetic Period dating from 1880 to 1901. Styles of jewelry changed throughout these periods let us take a closer look at each style period.Romantic Period
The Early-Victorian Era also known as the romantic period dates from 1837 to 1861 during this time jewelry reflected the romance between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Made with symbols of romance and love.
Pieces consisted of flower motifs such as roses, daisies, and the timeless forget-me-nots. Nature themes were very prevalent during this time, a symbol of eternal love such as snakes with their tail in their mouth. Brooches and rings contained secret compartments in them to place tokens of loved ones inside.
Acrostic jewels were the ultimate love token of the Victorian Era they would spell out hidden messages using the first letter of each stone used for instance a ring could spell out “Love” using lapis lazuli, opal, viridine, and emerald placed in order.
The Mid-Victorian Era also known as the grand period spanned from 1861 to 1880 this period was during the time of Prince Albert's death and led Queen Victoria into mourning for decades. Jewelry during this period was very much affected by the time of mourning. Stones such as black onyx and jet started becoming widely used.
Pieces with black gems in Europe were worn to show mourning for the dead and were known as "momento mori" ("remember you [have to] die"). However morbid it may seem, during the Victorian Era death was a common and an accepted part of life. This not only was the case in Europe but also in America, due to the devastation of the Civil War, infant mortality rates were also very high during this time period.
During the Victorian Era’s grand period pieces such as Cameos become everyday items in fashion, made from beautifully carved shells, agate, carnelian, and lava rocks. Originally designed as portraits of loved ones of the wealthy that traveled through Europe. However, the demand become so heavy that artists soon mass-produced cameos with an anonymous woman carved into the cameo.
The late Victorian era was known as the aesthetic period. Jewelry started to change designs started becoming more simple and feminine. Chokers and pearls become much more popular. Hairpieces and stud earrings become a trending fashion in jewelry.
Due to the industrial revolution jewelry went from being artisan to almost all mass-production jewelry. Which led to cheaper jewelry being available to the middle class and not only those with stature. The first machine-made chain maille bracelet appeared on the market during this time. The styles and shapes used in jewelry began to change, and the use of dragons, crescent moons, and stars started to grow quite popular.
The Victorian Era spanning over 60 years saw three major periods, Romantic, Grand, and Aesthetic, each period was a time of change the entire era made jewelry into something more than just simple decoration. Jewelry was used to express feelings and thoughts it showed people of the time to treasure memories; From jewelry that spelled out secret messages to cameos that captured time itself, Jewelry was designed to tug at your senses and to capture memories in time.