Queen Victoria’s reign in England from 1837 to 1901 was a spectacular era for jewelry, as well as for technology and craftsmanship.
These developments made jewelry more affordable and accessible to the middle classes in Europe and the United States.
Queen Victoria was well loved by her people. She loved fashion and jewelry and her wonderful taste soon became widely followed by women all over the world. She was a true trendsetter.
The Victorian era can be divided into three periods:
1837 – 1860: The Romantic Period – when she was married to her husband Albert.
1861 – 1879: The Grand Period – after the death of Albert and Victoria’s mother.
1880 – 1901: The Late Victorian Period – the Belle Epoque period of prosperity and optimism.
Romantic symbols in Victorian jewelry:
Queen Victorian was very much in love with Albert (as you can read about in many historical accounts).
That love is reflected in her jewelry with the use of flowers, birds, hearts, and snakes which symbolize eternity.
The motifs and colors in Victorian jewelry usually conveyed specific meanings.
The language of flowers was very prominent in Victorian times, and each flower carried a different symbolic meaning. This was conveyed in jewelry as well.
Roses symbolize romantic love, lilies symbolize beauty, mimosas chastity, and so on…
Mourning in the Victorian period was strictly observed by family members when someone died.
This meant black clothes and limited jewelry for women.
Mourning jewelry was made of dark materials and gemstones such as Jet.
That is also reflected very strongly in the jewelry of the Grand Period in which the jewelry looked like mourning jewelry. This reflected Queen Victoria’s deep grief over losing her beloved Albert.
The change in jewelry from the early Victorian era to the later Victorian era:
During the beginning of the Victorian era (mid 19th century) women were covered up very primly from the neck down. Jewelry options were more limited. Brooches, rings, and bracelets were most widely worn.
But then, women’s fashions changed and collarbones were exposed and suddenly beautiful necklaces were in demand!
Women began wearing their hair pulled back and upswept, creating a need for beautiful earrings.
This is why in the later Victorian Period we see larger and more bold pieces.
When Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, her son Edward took over the throne and so began the Edwardian era.
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