Monday, June 25, 2012

Victorian Mourning Jewelry (Part 1)

Victorian Mourning Brooch
Photo Source: Vintage Jewellery Pictures

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

In 1861, following Prince Albert’s death, the hope-inspired jewelry designs and romantic customs of the Romantic Era gave way to pragmatic authoritarian rules and regulations about everything, including jewelry.

With the heavier social customs came heavier jewelry, as well as the institution of day and night jewelry. It was frowned upon to be seen during the day with glittery, ostentatious jewelry. The once frilly and colorful designs of the early Victorian years were replaced with subtler, yet heavier designs made from onyx, black glass, and jet (a form of fossilized driftwood).

Colored stones were strictly taboo, and colorless diamonds, found in abundance in Africa in 1867, fast became the stone of choice for evening wear. Though a little more flash was tolerated for night wear, designers began to draw their inspiration from the gothic, Etruscan, and ancient Italian architecture. The result: Darker, heavier pieces, such as the mourning brooch shown above.

For ten years, Victoria remained in seclusion, traveling privately between Balmoral and Windsor Castle. She came into public view only a handful of times during those years; first for the unveiling of a statue of Albert in 1863, second for a public ride through the streets of London in 1864, and finally, reluctantly, for the Opening of Parliament in 1866. Her life became fixated on death, and England’s fashion trendsetter remained in deep mourning for nearly a decade.
1. Essortment. "Victorian Mourning Customs." Accessed June 13, 2012.
2. Spark Notes. "Queen Victoria: The Years of Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
3. Smith, S. E. "What was Victorian Mourning Like?" wiseGeek. Accessed June 13, 2012.
4. Britton, Natalya. "Victorian Death Worship and Literature." Literary Culture @ Suite101. June 29, 2012. Accessed June 13, 2012.
5. Burnett, Ann. "Perkin's Purple." Writer and Tutor, Ann Burnett. Accessed June 13, 2012.
6. Wikipedia. "Mourning." Accessed June 13, 2012.
7. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2007.
8. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
9. Tisdall, E. E. P. Alexandra: Edward VII’s Unpredictable Queen. New York: J. Day Co., 1954.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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