The Victorian era which lasted between the years of 1837 to 1901 saw the reign of Queen Victoria which proved to be an extremely important influence on the style of jewellery that originated throughout this period.
One of the most important reasons for this being that the Victorian era was one of the first periods through which a monarch had so much impact on the design of jewellery.
The era also witnessed a number of legal and social reforms which resulted in the narrowing gap between the middle class and aristocrats.
Furthermore, the unearthing of gold and gemstone deposits throughout Africa and America saw these prized materials become more accessible to the middle classes, having the effect of making them less expensive and sought after.
A time of innovation
It wasnt only the queen who was responsible for influencing the jewellery styles throughout this period.
The effects of the industrial revolution, although had started to emerge long before Queen Victoria came to the throne, werent as prevalent as they were until the queen took over which dramatically shaped this era and saw technological innovation go from strength to strength.
Important changes were made across a variety of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and social structure. Head to Graphic Design History to find out more information regarding the industrial revolution and the impact which it had during this time.
Influence of Queen Victoria
As already briefly mentioned, the ruling of Queen Victoria had a huge impact on jewellery styles throughout this period through which much of the jewellery was designed based on what the queen liked and wore herself.
Queen Victoria was regarded as being an extremely passionate and romantic monarch which led to very ornate and decorative styles, often including intricate detailing on many of the pieces.
Pendants, lockets and brooches, in particular, became extremely popular pieces. For example, this Antique Victorian Silver Blue Paste Necklace from Laurelle Antique Jewellerys Victorian collection represents a typical design showcasing the beautiful detailing and very feminine appearance of jewellery throughout this period.
The death of Prince Albert
Another fundamental influence which affected jewellery styles during the Victorian period came as a result of the death of Prince Albert in 1861.
The romantic styles of jewellery suddenly came to an abrupt stop as mourning jewellery came into fashion following Prince Alberts death as the queen herself wore black clothing jewellery to pay tribute to her husband.
Mourning jewellery was also popularised due to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Black jewellery and remembrance pieces were worn as a sentimental symbol to commemorate loved ones.
The population followed suit and a number of different mourning items, including rings, lockets, brooches and earrings were worn. Whilst the majority of mourning items were created using jet, less expensive materials such as black glass, black enamel and bog oak were also used.
Mourning jewellery remained in style until the death of Queen Victoria and to this is regarded as being extremely interesting and steeped in history.
You can find out more regarding the characteristics and styles of jewellery in the Mid-Victorian period by heading to the International Gem Society.
The Victorian era was clearly a fundamental era which not only had a huge impact on how jewellery was designed but also what it symbolised and represented. This period is extremely interesting to witness how the social and legal reforms, as well as the industrial revolution, played such a pivotal role in determining the future style of jewellery and how it could be accessed to the wider population.