Victorian Jewellery comprises some of the most instantly identifiable, desirable and valuable in the world. Spanning over the longest period in jewellery history so far and due to the fact that queen Victoria was until recently the longest reigning monarch, the motifs, fashions, trends and designs that typify Victorian jewellery are numerous, eclectic and diverse. Hence, so too is their influence on modern jewellery fashions.
The Victorian era is split into three separate periods, having spanned an impressive 64 years between 1837 and 1901. Motifs changed within these periods to reflect the political, global, industrial and cultural changes happening at the time.
During the later Victorian periods all manner of exotic leaf designs, including Egyptian papyrus leafs and Greek vines, became popular as countries became better connected through international trade than ever before. It is though one of the motifs pertaining to the earliest Victorian period that has proven the most popular and enduring motif.
In the Romantic period, the first in the Victorian Era, animal motifs were popular. Most notably, snake and serpent motifs were hugely popular as Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with a ring shaped into that of a serpent biting its tail to form a loop and symbolise his eternal and never ending love for the Queen.
The desire for snake inspired and serpent jewellery is one which has returned again and again and has now established itself as the most love motif in jewellery design as explored further via the Jewellery Editor Magazine earlier this year (2016).
Methods and Mass Production
One notable way by which Victorian jewellery has influenced and evolved not only the designs and motifs created today, but as well the methods by which we make jewellery is due as much down to the fact that the Victorian period was the era in which the industrial revolutions took place as the fashions of the time.
The industrial revolution resulted in the mechanicalisation of much jewellery production. Not only did this change the aesthetics of jewellery created during and subsequent to the industrial revolution and result in the methods used today to cut diamonds and stones and bend, manipulate and turn metals into jewellery items, it also revolutionised them; hence, jewellery began to be for the first time mass produced rather than handmade.
It is also impossible to discuss the influences and changes the Victorian period has had on jewellery without mentioning hallmarking. Today a common and standard practice, stamping and hallmarking was neither common nor standard practice until the Victorian period.
Enabling people to identify the exact and precise metals and ratios of differing metals used to create individual jewellery pieces, as well as providing information as to the age of a piece and region in which it was made, hall marking became particularly useful during and subsequent to the industrial revolution as the Victorian period also saw, with rapidly developing technologies and industry, mass production of jewellery become the standard means by which jewellery was and continues today to be created.
Having learned how the Victorians revolutionised not only the world, but the world of jewellery design, to now see for yourself some of the exquisite pieces made at the time, give our collection of Victorian jewellery pieces here at Heritage Antique Jewellery a browse.