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VICTORIAN PORTRAIT JEWELRY'S COLOR PALETTE
The Victorian Era lasted from 1837 to 1901 during Queen Victoria’s reign in the United Kingdom. The Victorian Era is known as the golden era of jewelry as industrialization allowed for innovative craftsmanship- in other words, jewelry no longer had to be hand-made which meant that it became accessible to the masses rather than being exclusive to the elite. Romanticism encrusted this era in highly saturated gemstones, as love, emotion, and individualism sparkled. Romanticism in literature, art, and fashion allowed for a redefinition of idealism, freedom, and imagination with little restriction. Romanticism inspired artwork in the Victorian Era idolized nature’s beauty in parallel to a subject, most often a nymph-like woman whose beauty was only magnified by her surroundings; think mythological creatures amongst emerald rolling hills and sapphire shallows. Nature motifs were reflected in jewelry as well, with lizards, serpents, and flowers chosen as popular emblems. Most notably, Prince Albert designed Queen Victoria’s engagement ring shaped like a serpent with an emerald head, ruby red eyes, and diamond details to symbolize everlasting love. Florals were also common tropes in art and jewelry in vibrant hues.
As emphasized in Prince Albert’s ring for Queen Victoria, jewelry during the Victorian Era was often a token of devotion to an individual in a relationship. REGARD and DEAREST rings are just two examples of this theme. The rings spelled the word in corresponding gemstones, for example REGARD might include a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and Diamond. The stones were often arranged in a simple line, however sometimes they would be arranged in a flower petal formation, underscoring ornate femininity. Cameo jewelry is also associated with the Victorian Era, featuring an intricate stone-carved silhouette often depicting loose curls atop a woman’s turned head, pearls draped around her neck, and roses in her delicate grip. Other jewelry styles could even depict a loved ones portrait painting or include hair enclosed in a locket- most commonly known as “mourning jewelry” to be able to hold a memory tight in a locket’s clasp. The sentimental aspect of the jewelry was more valuable than any amethyst or emerald.
There was a wide range of material used in Victorian Era jewelry. The most common gems used were agate, amber, amethyst, chalcedony, chrysoberyl, diamond, emerald, garnet, malachite, seed pearls, quartz, topaz, and turquoise. Ivory, lava stone, tortoiseshell, and coral were also important materials. In terms of color palette, red hues were analogous with luxury while dark brown hues corresponded with mourning pieces. Due to the mingling of several types of gemstones, many pieces were often highly saturated showcasing a technicolor palette. Read below for a full PALETTE of Victoria Era portrait jewelry!
SUMPTUOUS SKY SAPPHIRE AND GOLD
OCEAN SUNRISE CORAL PINK AND GOLD
ISLAND DREAMS AQUAMARINE AND PINK PEARL
DUSK'S ROLLING HILLS EMERALD GREEN AND SILVER
"Romanticism encrusted this era in highly saturated gemstones, as love, emotion, and individualism sparkled...Romanticism-inspired artwork in the Victorian Era idolized nature’s beauty in parallel to a subject, most often a nymph-like woman whose beauty was only magnified by her surroundings; think mythological creatures amongst emerald rolling hills and sapphire shallows. Nature motifs were reflected in jewelry as well, with lizards, serpents, and flowers chosen as popular emblems."
PRAIRIE SUNSET AMETHYST AND RUBY
FOGGY NIGHT GARNET AND BLUE QUARTZ
NIGHT'S VOLCANIC ISLAND EARTH AND RUST
GOLDEN COASTLINE STONE AND TOPAZ
WORDS Tessa Swantek
IMAGE RIGHTS 1stDibs.com and Etsy.com
GRAPHICS Tessa Swantek
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