By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that Victorian (1837-1901) jewelry is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because of the Victorian fascination with the natural world. Nothing on earth or in the sea or sky escaped their curiosity and admiration. Unfortunately, they were avid trophy collectors of all they saw and admired. Conservation was at first unheard of and they drove many species to the brink of extinction. The only thing that mattered was that one could bring back a piece of flora or fauna to keep forever. These natural trophies were kept under glass in private collections. Or they were incorporated into jewelry or worn on elaborate hats.
The most grotesque Victorian obsession was the fad of wearing parts of animals in jewelry or fashion. Take for instance brooches made from game bird feet, including the talons. There were also instances where women had the heads of their deceased cats stuffed and mounted on their hats.
Thankfully, not all Victorian jewelry incorporated parts of the real thing. Popular motifs were also rendered in both fine and costume jewelry using gemstones, glass and metal. Here are some photos of some of my favorite Victorian motifs in jewelry:
Stars and Sunbursts were favorite Victorian motifs. The fascination with the natural world included the heavenly bodies above. Since they were unable to grab pieces of the sun and stars for their trophy collections, Victorians wore representations of them in their jewelry.
Ever sentimental, symbols of endearment were ever popular Victorian motifs. Jewelry with heart and love knot motifs were often engraved with affectionate messages or combined with etched renditions of roses or forget-me-nots. They also could be accompanied with ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond and sapphire stones. The first letters of these gemstones when placed together formed the word, "regards."
The Victorians were very superstitious. Good luck Shamrocks adorned many pieces of Victorian jewelry along with wishbones, horseshoes and other "lucky charms."
Birds and butterflies in flight were two more favorite Victorian motifs. Perhaps they symbolized their subconscious desire to explore the world around them.
Do you have any favorite Victorian jewelry of a particular motif? Let me know in the comments section and please subscribe to this blog if you enjoy vintage and antique jewelry as much as I do!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her to write for you? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for more information or email her directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!