For collectors of antique jewelry, there is one period which usually sticks out ahead of all others: The Victorian era.
However, to the uninitiated, it can be a little tougher to determine exactly what is Victorian and what isn’t.
So we’ve decided to share three distinctive characteristics which you should be on the lookout for next time you’re searching for the next big piece for your collection.
The jewelry of the period was largely influenced by Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901, and her husband Prince Albert.
This was especially clear early on in the period, as the jewelry of the day reflected the young love between the pair.
And it was Albert’s engagement ring in 1840 which really kicked off the trend of using animal designs in jewelry.
The ring was a snake with an emerald-set head and its tail in its mouth (a symbol of eternal love).
And as travel became more accessible and people began to explore the world much more, this trend continued the period.
From insects and butterflies to monkeys and serpents, animal pieces were all the rage.
Another popular feature related to nature was the heavy use of floral motifs. The symbolism and meaning of flowers was very important at the time as ‘Victorian flower language’ became popular.
It was believed that all flowers had their own sentimental meaning, for example white jasmine would represent ‘amiability’ and myrtle would mean ‘love’.
It was only natural that this would work its way into jewellery and become a very popular way to show and this began to seep into the jewelry of the time.
Golden leaves and studded flower buds were commonplace in Victorian jewelry and one common technique was called ‘en tremblant’ which made the flowers ‘shiver’ with the movements of their wearers.
Cameos are pieces which have been carved in relief from materials such as stone, shell or coral, and while they’d been around for a long time, they experienced a resurgence in popularity during Victoria’s reign.
They most commonly depict a portrait, usually of a well-known individual such as rulers, philosophers or scholars.
Like floral pieces, cameos became popular as people began to travel much more widely around Europe, especially Italy, as Ancient Roman motifs were especially popular.
We spoke to Royal Antique Jewelry who said: “Cameos were generally seen as a symbol of wealth and privilege at the time as they showed that the wearer was wealthy enough to travel abroad, although they did become more popular with the wider public when more affordable materials such as glass pastes were used.”
Just like with all of the jewelry of the era, the popularity of the cameo was largely influenced by the fact that they were a favourite of the Queen.