The Victorian PeriodLearn how to identify historic design periods and some interesting fact about the fashions and events in those periods.
• Early Victorian (Romantic) (1837-1855) - In a time of delicacy and modesty, jewelry was designed to coincide with the fashions. Since clothing did not show the ankle or the ear, dress were fitted at the waist, and full to the ground and hairstyles always covered the ear. To adorn this look, hair ornaments, broaches, lockets and bracelets were very popular. The jewelry often had nature-inspired motifs that were delicately etched into gold. Other designs that were popular were classical Greek and Roman themes, Gothic and Medieval, grapes, vines and leaves, eyes, hands, knots, serpents and hearts. There was a separation between jewelry worn during the day and what was to be worn at night. Bracelets were the most popular kind of jewelry. Gemstones and diamonds were only to be worn during the evening. The Victorian Period is obviously named for Queen Victoria and during the Romantic Period, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Jewelry from this time is rather rare.
• Mid Victorian (Grand) (1856-1885) - In the Grand Period, the modesty from the earlier period was lifted and jewelry was built to reflect wealth and prominence. The Civil war was happening in the United States and the role of women in society was changing. Large hoop skirts and corsets became essential and the neckline of dresses lowered making necklaces extremely popular. Perhaps inspired by the death of Prince Albert much of the jewelry took on darker designs that included solemn, dark and grave designs in addition to anchors, hearts, crosses, beetles, bells, and monograms. The jewelry often featured heavy, dark stones such as jet, onyx, amethyst and garnet. This jewelry is rare probably because of its delicacy. Pieces were built to be large in scale to give the impression of wealth but without the weight.
• Late Victorian (Eclectic) (1885-1901) - As the century came to an end, women were more involved in the workplace. Clothing was becoming more form fitting and the jewelry took on a more feminine feel. Diamonds were popular and bright gemstones such as sapphire, periodot and spinel were used more often. Designs such as stars, crescents, birds, flowers, hearts, horseshoes, moon and owl and insects were very popular. Jewelry from this time fun to collect because of its presence in many estates today. As technology advanced, jewelry began to be mass produced which made it less expensive.