JewelryThe period between 1837 and 1901 is notable as one of the most progressive eras in history.  Queen Victoria’s reign was so influential that her name is stamped across the era to denote everything from fashion to furniture.  The following offerings relate specifically to the jewelry of the Victorian era providing interesting facts and trivia about Victorian jewels.

Early Victorian jewelers fancied gems like topaz, amethyst, citrines and garnets.  Diamonds were considered to be matronly while young women often preferred turquoise which was popular throughout the era.

These materials were also typical of Victorian jewelry: amber, coral, glass, onyx, agate, sapphire, peridot, carnelian, ruby, freshwater pearl, ivory and tortoiseshell.

Diamonds in the early Victorian era came from India.  Later diamonds would hail from newly discovered mines in Brazil and South Africa.

The Victorians frequently used marcasites as substitutes for diamonds.  Marcasite, also known as pyrite, was used for this purpose as early as the 1700s.

Heliotrope, or bloodstone as the Victorians called, was used throughout the era.  Bloodstone is rarely used in modern jewelry so discovering it used in a piece often helps to date the piece as an old one.

The opal was one of Queen Victoria’s personal favorites; she presented them as wedding gifts to her daughters and also wore them herself.

Opals were quite fashionable during the latter portion of the era and were frequently used in jewelry representing animals like eagles, butterflies, turtles, beetles and dragonflies.

The engagement ring Prince Albert presented to Queen Victoria featured a serpent motif.  The Victorians considered snakes to be symbols of eternity and there are many pieces from the era that feature snakes or serpentine design.

Other popular jewelry motifs might include flowers, birds or trees.

Jet jewelry even before Victorian times was used to make mourning jewelry, but it is closely associated with the Victorian era, especially in jewelry after the death of Prince Albert.

Many Victorians believed that garnets endowed their wearers with qualities of faith, constancy and truth.

Popular Victorian necklace styles include chokers, lavaliers, fringes and pendants.

Jewelry created from seed pearls was immensely popular in the Victorian period.  Drilling the tiny seed pearls required painstaking skill.

A very popular Victorian style was to wear a choker-style ribbon or chain and accent with a single precious stone like a ruby or amethyst.

Lockets were beloved by the Victorians and earlier held miniature painted portraits and locks of hair and later might feature a small photograph.  A locket might feature a painted enamel scene, a cameo or a precious stone.

Victorian jewelry is still beloved today and may often be found at antique stores or online auction sites for a variety of prices.