Victorian Jewelry: The Romantic Period 1837 to 1860

I would like to start this blog off saying that the Victorian Jewelry Era is possibly my favorite of all jewelry periods. 

The Victorian Jewelry Era is so large, it would be almost impossible to to include all of the information, photos and tidbits on one blog, so I will subdivide it into three periods; the Early or Romantic, the Middle or Grand, and the Late Victorian or Aesthetic periods.
Queen Victoria's Emerald Parure

The Victorian Jewelry Era was a magnificent time in the History of Antique Jewelry that lasted the entire lifespan of its namesake Queen from 1837 to 1901. Advances in technology, the growing middle class, discovery of gold in California and Australia and women overtaking men as the primary jewelry wearers all resulted in more jewelry being produced during the nineteenth century than in all prior history.

1837: Victoria Becomes Queen.
1837: Louis J.M.Daguerre perfects the Daguerreotype Photographic Process.
1837: The Telegraph is patented by Cooke and Wheatstone, Improved by Samuel Morse, First message sent 1844.
1837: Enameled Garter Armlet made for Queen Victoria; Order of the Garter strap and buckle motifs become popular.
1837:Charles Lewis Tiffany founds company in New York City; becomes Tiffany & Co. in 1853.
1837: Falize opens up shop in Paris

 Lady Borough, painted between 1527 and 1533. The portrait depicts her in her late teens to early 20s, dressed in the fashion of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's court.

Beautiful jewelry inspired by the Renaissance and Middle Ages was very popular. Production of Memento mori, Religious and Talismantic jewelry was everywhere and suddenly a necessity for everyone. Symbolism associated with Flowers and Serpent motives were loved by the Victorians too.

1839: Charles Goodyear invents and patents (1844) Vulcanized Rubber; Displays products at the Crystal Palace in 1851.

1839: Patek, Czapek & Cie. Established by Antoine Norbert De Patek and Francois Czapek.

Antique Holtzapffel Ornamental Turning Lathe WITH Accessories. CIRCA 1852

There were only two Gold Standards for hallmarking with the Crown prior to 1854. 22 Karat and 18 Karat. Karat Gold,Tricolor Gold and Silver were the main metals used. After 1854 less expensive karat gold, 9, 12 ad 15 karat were legalized.
New Manufacturing Processes that greatly sped up jewelry production began to be applied for use in the jewelry industry. In 1852 a method for cutting and stamping settings, using hand operated presses was created. These presses turned out entire pieces of beautiful jewelry very quickly.
Machine production of jewelry now included Costume Jewelry, made of Gilt or Pinchbeck with glass imitation gems.
The invention of Electroplating caused a revolution in costume jewelry manufacture.

1840: Victoria weds Prince Albert.
1840: Electroplating commercialized, patented by Elkingtons of Birgmingham. Large scale jewelry manufacturing begins in USA.
1840: Process for permanently Foiled Pastes discovered.
1840: Steam Power first used for Diamond Cutting in Amsterdam.
1840: Repousse and Machine Stamping replace Cannetille.
1840: Scottish Motifs in Pebble (Agate) jewelry popularized, continuing through the rest of the century.
1840: Algerian Knot Motif introduced in Paris.
Horse Frontlet. Ivory. Neo-Assyrian Period, 9th-8th century BCE. Nimrud, Iraq.

When the French conquered Algeria, different design elements from their cultures such as Tassels, Twisted Cords, Knots and Festoons were imitated in gold and translated into jewelry.
In 1848 Sir Austen Henry Laynard published Nineveh and its Remains and jewelers were quick in adopting the Assyrian styles in their jewelry.
The Lotus Flower design was one prominent outcome of this interest.

1842: Gutta-Percha introduced in Paris.
1842: Excavations of Ancient Assyrian Capital of Nineveh begin.
1842: British Kite-Shaped Registry Mark introduced.

Stunning Victorian Cameo This is one of the best coral cameos you will ever see. Its Victorian and set in 14kt yellow gold frame. The cameo is carved in great relief with flowers, drapes and swags.

Queen Victoria loved Cameos, and as a result cameos enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.
Some of the Queens favorites were cameos carved in extremely high relief in Onyx, Dyed Challedony, Amethyst and other gems.
Large Shell cameos with Mythological themes and figures along with Habilles, Shell cameos decorated with Gem-Set Jewelry and inlaid Hardstone elements were favorites of the Victorians. 

1841: Duty on Imported Jewelry and mounted Gemstones levied by USA 

Jewelry Glossary

Memento mori: Skulls, Skeletons and coffins often worked in gold and enamel were the predominant motifs in Memento mori jewelry. The name given to sixteenth through eighteenth century jewelry created as a reminder of ones death and to live life piously. The literal translation is "Remember You Must Die"

Talisman: A Talisman is a charm, amulet or other ornament that has a magical meaning to the wearer. Birthstones are derived from this common practice in Medieval times, although the use of the Talismans is from all ages.

Tricolor Gold: Tricolor Gold is the use of three colors of gold in jewelry fabrication. Usually this is a combination of Yellow, White and Rose or Green gold.

Costume Jewelry: Costume Jewelry is jewelry made from less costly materials. This genre has been known to exist sine the 18th century. Another meaning is jewelry made for a special outfit or costume.

Pinchbeck: Pinchbeck is an alloy of copper and zinc (approximately 17% zinc and 83% copper) Invented circa 1720 by Christopher Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck looked like gold but was much lighter which made it very popular.

Tassel: A Tassel is a hanging ornament usually in the form of threads suspending from cord.

Festoon: A Festoon is an arrangement of flowers, fruit and/ or foliage. The word comes from Latin "Festo" which means as much as feast. Festoons became popular in jewelry during the Neo-Classical period.

Habille: A Habille is a cameo in which jewelry, earrings for instance, is incorporated in the portrait. These highly collectible cameos came in fashion around 1840.


Victorian Jewelry: The Romantic Period 1837 to 1860 Pt.2

Amazing jewelry creations were produced during the Victorian "Romantic Period".
  1. Pieces crafted from beautiful CoralMother-of-Pearl and Seed Pearls from the Sea. Unique pieces crafted from "Jet" a fossilized wood from the Jurassic period and "Hairwork" a very unique and detailed jewelry created from Human Hair.
    Victorian woman wearing beautiful beaded jewelry

    1843: Gerrard becomes British Crown Jeweler.
    1846: Riker, Tay & Searing founded in Newark, NJ, becomes Riker Bros. in 1892.
    1847: Cartier founded in Paris.

    Unusual Victorian Branch Coral, Pearl & Diamond Brooch Italian 19th Century Branch Coral Brooch with a Bee formed with a natural Pearl Body and Diamond Wings landing on a branch with enameled leaves & intertwining gold tendrils. Formerly in the Collection of Ruth Ford. Ca. 1850-70.

    Coral was very popular during the Romantic Period and remained that way until c.1865.

    Usually Coral was worn in its original branch form, which was a custom in Italy to protect children and to ward off the evil eye.
    Victorian women loved their Coral Bead jewelry. Beads come in many sizes and colors and were strung around necks in great volume.

    Coral is an organic gemstone which is cut from a mass of skeletons, secreted by polyps as a calcareous habitat. Much like the trade in ivory, the trade in old coral is still acceptable and many coral artifacts are of historic value.

    1848: Balmoral Castle in Scotland purchased by Queen Victoria.

    1848: Gold Discovered in California. 
    1848: Thomas H. Lowe of Birmingham introduces Rolled Gold Plating process (A.K.A. Gold Filled) to Providence, R.I. manufactures.
    Victorian mourning pendant is made with 18k yellow gold, seed pearls, and a coiled lock of hair behind a glass panel.

    Mother-of-Pearl and Seed Pearls were used extensively in creating intricate jewelry pieces with beautiful Flowers, Leaves an Scrolls.
    The Victorians loved Flowers and this became one of the most popular Seed Pearl designs.
    Seed Pearls were used in many jewelry pieces including the framing of large elegant gemstones to enhance the design.

    Seed Pearls are very small in size; less than one-quarter grain in weight, usually smaller than 2mm in size and not perfectly round. Seed pearls are imported from India and China. Historically Seed Pearls occur naturally.

    Mother-of-Pearl is a nacreous, lustrous. iridescent lining of the shell of a mollusk that can be carved and cut for jewelry and other decorative purposes.

    1849: California Gold Rush.
    1849: The Safety Pin invented and patented by W.Hunt.
    1849: Gold Electroplating patented.
    1849: Opals first discovered in Australia, The first with play of color in 1863.
    Rare Victorian 15c Gold Locket Pendant with Hairwork 1860s

    Mourning and Sentimental jewelry flourished during the Romantic period.
    Through the 16th and 18th centuries Memento mori jewelry was popular, but became even more so after the passing of the Queen's Albert.
    Typically, Mourning jewelry is traditionally worn when someone is in mourning.
    Materials typically used in the creating of Mourning jewelry are Black Enamel, Jet, Onyx, Human Hair, Glass, Vulcanite and Gutta-Percha.
    Human Hair was also used in the creation of Sentimental jewelry, created in a painterly style to depict Prince of Wales Feathers, Ships, Landscapes and other Sentimental subjects.
    The art form of Hairwork was so prevalent that a life-size portrait of Queen Victoria made entirely of hair was constructed for the Paris Exposition of 1855.

    Vulcanite is compressed (vulcanized)rubber. Vulcanite was a less expensive material than jet and used for similar jewelry items.

    Gutta-percha is a dark rubbery, organic substance derived from tropical trees.

    1850: High tariff placed on Foreign Goods imported into the USA.
    1850: Tube shaped (Trombone) Safety Catch patented by Charles Rowley of Birmingham, England.
    1850: Brooches with swiveling compartments introduced.
    1850: Garnet-Glass Doublets first introduced.

    Victorian Museum Quality Shell Cameo of Day & Night set into a Whitby Jet mount.

    Jet was being used to create Chains, Beads and Carvings for a Fashionable Mourning period.
    Imitations such as French Jet, cheaply made glass imitations were also available.

    Jet formed from Fossilized Wood of a Jurassic Period Tree that upon dying, often ended up as driftwood that was swept out to sea. Under great pressure for millions of years and with all of the requisite elements, ordinary driftwood is transformed into the gem known as Jet.

    1851: Gold and Diamonds first discovered in Australia.
    1851: Hard Rubber (Vulcanite) patented by Nelson Goodyear.
    1851: Artificial Aventurine (Goldstone) exhibited at Crystal Palace.
    1851: Edward Moore becomes Director of Tiffay & Co.
    1851: First International Exhibition, The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. Held at the Crystal Palace in London.

    The Jewelry....Victorian Romantic Period 1837 - 1860
  2. My blog this week is devoted to showcase some of the magnificent jewelry that was created during the Victorian Romantic Period. So many of the pieces were handmade, but more and more jewelry was being manufactured by the faster and less expensive use of machines.

I hope you enjoy the Timeline that I've included in my blogs, It's purpose is to add a little more history to what else was happening during this exciting period.

Nice jewelry - love the creole hoop earrings, nice brooch and long watch/pencil chain. Circa 1850

1852: Louis Napoleon becomes Napoleon III, Beginning of French Second Empire.
1852: Machine for Heat-Pressing Bog-Oak patented.
1852: Tiffany & Co. introduces the English Sterling Standard to the USA.
1853: Commodore Matthew Perry sails the American Fleet into Japan; Opens East-West trade relations.
1853: Crystal Palace Exhibition held in New York, modeled after London exhibition.
1853: Demantoid Garnet discovered in Ural Mountains, identified as Green Andradite in 1864, named Demantoid in 1878.
Antique Gold and Garnet Pendant Earrings A pair of Antique 18 karat gold and oval cabochon almandite garnet pendant earrings that are decorated with green enamel flowers. Circa 1840s

The evening dress of the 1830's & 40's Victorian Romantic Period dictated the slowdown of the manufacture and wearing of earrings.
Victorian women usually wore their hair parted in the middle with most of the hair on the sides, which covered the ears.
 Also the wearing of large hats precluded the wearing of earrings during this period and few were produced.
In the 1850's hair receded from the face and smaller earrings began to reappear, and once again became a fashion necessity.

1853: Process for Bloomed Gold documented.
1854: Results of first commercially successful Aluminum Reduction Process published by Henri Ste. Claire Deville.
1854: Samuel Peck's patent for Shellac composition Daguerreotype cases.
1854: Use of 15-,12- and 9 Karat Gold made legal in England.
1855: Paris Exposition Universelle, Aluminum articles first exhibited.
Henry Inman, Portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren, 1842 wearing jewelry including a Ferronnière.

Ferronieres were the Victorian woman's tribute to the Middle Ages and they were worn constantly from 1830 to 1845. 
Ferronieres were crafted from chains or cords that were worn around the head with a single gem that dangled on the forehead.
The portrait above shows Angelica Singleton Van Buren 1842 wearing a Ferroniere.

1855: R.W Bunsen begins using Gas-Air Burner that is his namesake.
1855: Patents for Bois Durci, Parkesine and Artificial Coral issued.
1855: Theodore Fahrner founds jewelry factory in Pforzheim, Germany.
1855: First Aluminum Jewelry made in France
1856: Wm. Perkin accidentally discovers the first Synthetic Aniline (Coal-Tar) Dye, Mauve.
Diamond Flower Tiara of Queen Amelie of Greece. Portrait by Stieler c1836.

Victorian Tiaras were crafted like a half circle framing the face rather than perched atop the head like a crown. 
These beautiful jewelry pieces were designed with flowers and berries. More Gothic style designs were produced in the early 1840's.
Note the beautiful Diamond Flower Tiara worn by Queen Amelie of Greece 1836 in above portrait.

1857: Financial Panic of 1857 affects all of U.S. industries.
1857: Furnace to melt Platinum and its alloys developed by Henri Ste. Clair Deville.
1857: Snake Chain making machine patented in the U.S.A.
Stalking the Belle Époque: Mastery of Design: The Grapevine Necklace, 1840-1850 The Victoria & Albert Museum constructed of enameled gold mounted with amethysts.

Necklaces were a very popular jewelry item during the Victorian Romantic period. 

Snake necklaces with Amazing Gold Scales and Turquoise slithered close to the neck.
Rivieres with strands of Pearls, Coral Beads and Cameos were very popular with the Victorian ladies.
Pendants and Lockets were suspended from chains or hung on Ribbons with Insect and Floral motifs.

1858: First attempted laying of the Transatlantic Cable.
1858: Boucheron founded in Paris. 
1859: Construction of the Suez Canal begins.
This antique brooch from the 1850’s boasts all the hallmarks of the Early Victorian Era, including a romantic feel, colored gemstones and of course diamonds. With tear-drop shaped Burmese rubies, striking Ceylon sapphires with a lustrous light blue color, and a show-stopping emerald in central position, this substantial brooch is bright yet elegant. With a commanding feel of authority, its shape is even reminiscent of a British medal of honor.

Brooches were usually large during the Romantic Period and usually had a loop or hook so they could do double duty as a pendant.
Victorian women loved large oval and oblong shapes with pendants and tassels, covered with diamonds.
Less expensive brooches with undulating ribbons with enamel or bows with turquoise and pearls suited the new middle class Victorian of fashion.

1859: Comstock Lode Silver discovered in Nevada.
1859: Jewels of Queen Ah-Hotep of Egypt discovered.
1859: First attempt at organized Jeweler's Union in U.S.A., not successful until 1900 (International Jewelry Workers Union of America)
Victorian c. 1840s pinchbeck Swiss floral enamel bracelet with black and white enameling, 7-1/4" by 2".

Bracelets were the most popular jewelry item during the Romantic Period.
Worn in groups. sometimes matched pairs and worn anytime, on the bare wrist during the day, atop gloves in the evening.
Woven pearls and beads, Hairwork, Ribbons and Woven Mesh Bracelets with elaborate clasps, often set with a Portrait Miniature or Cameos, were everywhere.
Beautiful Straps and Jarretiere (Garter) Bracelets with Buckles displayed highly detailed Enamel and Engraving work.
The unique Flexible and Expansion Bracelets gained popularity because they could be made to fit any part of the arm, with or without gloves.

1860: English patent for machine to manufacture Stamped Settings (Collets) for stones granted to Frenchmen Bouret and Ferre.
1860: Henry D. Morse opens first American Diamond-Cutting factory in Boston, develops standards for the American Round Brilliant Cut, 1872-1875.
Olivia Collings | 1840's 18-karat gold, amethyst and diamond ring

Snakes made an appearance during the Romantic Period in the form of Rings as well.
Popular as a result of the Queen's Betrothal Ring styled as a Emerald Studded Serpent.

1860: Emperor Maximilian & Maximilian Diamonds are purchased in Brazil by Emperor Maximilian himself.
1860: Fouquet opens up shop.
1860: Ernest Gallard takes over his fathers shop in Paris.
HM Queen Maria Anna of Saxony (1838-1854)  Her Royal Highness Princess Maria Leopoldina Anna of Bavaria wearing jewelry.



  1. This material has been lifted word for word from my website, Please remove it.

  2. All these jewellery pieces are just fabulous! I like wearing jewellery and accessories. I've recently found some stunning brooches designs on website. So, I think I'll order one for myself.