In Fine Fashion: Symbolism of Victorian Jewelry

Do you know of the hidden gems embedded in Victorian jewelry? Once upon a time, pendants were much more than mere ornaments. They were insignia. Each design carried motifs and qualities with precious meaning, supposedly describing its owner.

Victorian ladies were what they wore, so to speak.

For example, a necklace with a holly design signified truth and instinct. An eye: protection. And so on and so forth. In order to fully appreciate the finery we wear, we’ve compiled a list of each emblem with its significance.

A Secret History

Popular in the 19th century, Lovers’ Eyes were tiny portraits painted on pieces of jewelry meant to conceal the identity of their subject. Since only an intimate acquaintance might recognize the individual’s eye, the token of affection could be proudly displayed while keeping forbidden romance a secret. Lovers’ eye jewelry pieces were sometimes studded with a diamond tear in remembrance of lost loved ones.

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The Origins of “Jet-Black”

victoria_frederick_mourning.jpgOne of the more fascinating histories of Victorian jewelry is that of jet. Jet is a fossilized driftwood, smooth and lightweight with an intense black color, that can be found in the seaside cliffs of Whitby, England.

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The most prolific patron of this sought-after “gemstone” was Queen Victoria. In an era that called for heavy and voluminous clothing, jet’s lightweight characteristics made it the perfect choice for large, eye-catching jewelry pieces that could be worn comfortably.

When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria took to wearing carved jet in remembrance of her lost love, making it the unspoken practice for all to accessorize their black mourning fashions with jet jewelry