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Victorian Jewelry

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The very name Victorian jewelry recalls a time when romance ruled the day. The ascension to the British throne of the young and beautiful Queen Victoria heralded a new approach in style and fashion. The growth of an affluent middle class generated a market for mass-produced jewelry used to showcase the social status of its owners.

The Queen herself, after marrying the love of her life, Prince Albert, became a frequent showcase for fine jewelry, making dazzling tiaras, bracelets and necklaces all the vogue.

The popular motifs during this time included natural and fantasy elements such as dragons and serpents. The jewelry was brilliantly enameled and accented with settings of diamonds and gems to enliven them.

Romantic bow knots set with diamonds often included miniature, upside-down dangling watches, suspended so the wearer could read it while pinned to an upper bodice. Engagement rings of amethyst and diamonds pared with pearls and rubies were all the rage.

Engraved mitzvah charms were shared by separated couples to remind them of their love for each other. Cameo jewelry was in high demand; travelers taking a grand tour of Europe brought back carved shell cameos from southern Italy.

The more affluent showcased tremulant settings with diamond-encrusted sprays of flowers. The flower heads vibrated with the slightest movement of the wearer. Queen Victoria pioneered the charm bracelet, hung with mementoes of her life such as the baby teeth of her children.

Sadly, upon the death of her beloved Prince Albert, Victoria descended into deep mourning, dressing only in black. Her gowns featured a preponderance of black jet and even hardened oak.

Subsequently, the Queen received many spectacular treasures, mostly from her colonial subjects. From India, monumental gems such as the Timur Ruby and the famed Kohorinir diamond are set to this day in the Queen Consorts crown in the Tower of London.

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