Victorian Era Jewelry

Victorian Era Jewelry

Introduction to Victorian Era Jewelry

The Victorian era was an exciting time in history, and jewelry was no exception. Jewelry of this period was extravagantly decorated and sophisticated, and often held a deep personal sentimentality to the wearer. Grand gestures were often expressed in the form of jewels, and intricate designs were used to signify love and loyalty.

During this time, a variety of materials were used to create stunning pieces such as gold and silver, diamond and other precious gems, glass and pearls or even ivory and coral. Popular styles of the day included rose-cut diamonds, motifs such as lover’s knots, intaglio engravings, and scrollwork. Queen Victoria was often seen wearing her signature ‘pearl and ruby’ combination, and so these colors and designs have become iconic of the Victorian era.

Explore the Power of Sentiment

During the Victorian era, a piece of jewelry given as a gift was more than just an object. It had a deeper meaning, filled with emotion and love. Jewelry was given to mark special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements, as well as to express unspoken feelings. It was also used to convey feelings that were too difficult to put into words.

The Victorians loved the symbolism of nature and incorporated it into their jewelry designs. Common symbols of the time included birds, hearts, stars, and flowers. Each had a deep meaning and conveyed messages of love, hope, and eternity.

Many different techniques were used by jewelers to give jewelry sentimental value. Pieces were often inscribed with names or initials as a sign of commitment, devotion, and love. It was also popular to have secret messages inscribed on the underside of rings for an added layer of mystery.

Symbolism and Meaning

During the Victorian era, jewelry was used to express more than just style; it was a way to convey deep feelings of emotion and love. Popular symbols, verses, and universal designs were used to craft beautiful and meaningful pieces.

Common symbols included flowers, which were among some of the most popular motifs in Victorian Jewelry. An individual flower could symbolize a particular emotion or sentiment, while a bouquet of them could represent a whole bunch of different meanings. Lovers’ knots were also popular, as they conveyed a message of unbreakable love and loyalty. Other symbolism such as hearts and stars, bookmarks with verses, and tassels were used to represent faith and devotion.

These symbols were inscribed onto jewelry in a variety of ways, from engraving to chasing and more. Monograms were a popular way to add a personal touch to pieces. With initials, date and initials, as well as other creative combinations, these monograms were fashionable and meaningful.

The Queen’s Jewels

Queen Victoria was renowned for her timeless style and exquisite taste in jewelry. Her signature look helped to cement a wide range of decorative styles that are still popular today. From her simple yet elegant wedding band to her beloved sapphire necklace, she set trends that influenced the jewelry design of the Victorian era.

Some of the most iconic pieces of jewelry from Queen Victoria’s reign include:

  • her wedding band – a simple gold band embellished with a single diamond
  • the Scottish crown jewels – loaded with rubies, sapphires and diamonds
  • the Imperial State Crown – a diamond encrusted crown fit for a queen
  • the Koh-i-Noor – an astonishing 105 carat diamond that has been a part of the British Royal collection since the late 1800s

These pieces have been cherished by the royal family for generations, but they have also inspired a range of stunning jewelry designs from many other famous jewelers. Replicas of these famous pieces have been made available to the public, allowing everyone to experience the beauty of Queen Victoria’s exquisite taste in jewelry.

Common Materials and Styles

The Victorian Era was a period of experimentation and exploration in terms of jewelry design. During this time, an array of different materials and engraving techniques were used to create stunning pieces of art. From gold and silver to gemstones and enamel, the combinations were seemingly endless.

Gold was one of the most popular materials during the Victorian era, although silver was also widely used. Gold jewelry could be molded into beautiful, intricate shapes and studded with gemstones for an extra sparkle. Silver on the other hand was much more affordable, allowing more people to purchase jewelry who might not have otherwise been able to.

Gemstones were an essential part of this era’s jewelry as well. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, among others, were all popular choices. These gems came in various cuts, such as the cabochon, rose-cut, and single-cut. Each type of cut added its own unique sparkle and shine to the jewelry piece.

Engraving was also a common practice during the Victorian era. This technique was used to personalize pieces with sentimental messages or decorative motifs such as monograms and lover’s knots. Engraving could be done onto the metal as well as on the gemstones, making each piece of jewelry even more unique.

Overall, the Victorian era was an exciting period for jewelry design, and many of the materials and styles used then are still popular today.

Types of Victorian Era Rings

During the Victorian era, rings were a popular accessory worn as a symbol of love and loyalty. There were many styles of rings popular during this period, from simple signet rings to intricate halo and cluster rings.

Signet Rings

Signet rings were popular during the Victorian period and could often feature a family crest or a personal monogram. The circular shape of signet rings was thought to represent eternity, so they were a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings.

Halo Rings

Halo rings are a type of cluster ring set with precious stones arranged in a circle around a larger center-stone. These rings often featured diamond halos, with the center stones typically being pearls, emeralds, or rubies. They were often given as engagement and wedding rings.

Cluster Rings

Cluster rings were also popular during the Victorian period. These rings typically featured a larger central gemstone surrounded by smaller accent stones. The stones were commonly diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. Cluster rings came in a variety of shapes and sizes and were often given as engagement and wedding rings.

Examples of Engraved Pieces

During the Victorian era, jewelry was often crafted and engraved with sentimental messages and symbols. These pieces were often used to communicate love and loyalty, with popular motifs including monograms and lover’s knots. While many pieces have been lost or destroyed over the years, there are still many beautiful examples of these items available to admire today.

Monograms are a popular symbol which feature two or three letters intertwined to represent a person or relationship. For example, the initials ‘VC’ could be crafted into an intertwining design to signify a partnership between Victoria and Charles. Lover’s knots feature a circular component crafted into a beautiful knot design which is believed to symbolize a loving relationship between two people.

These designs can be found in antique pieces as well as modern-day replicas, allowing us to appreciate and admire these beautiful symbols of love and loyalty even today.

Popular Gemstone Cuts

In the Victorian era, gemstone cuts were incredibly popular. Cabochon and rose-cut diamonds were two of the most popular cuts of the time. Cabochon was a smooth, rounded cut that was very simple and elegant. Rose-cut diamonds were another popular style that was often used in engagement rings. It was a flat, round cut with triangular facets radiating from the center.

Aside from diamond cuts, other precious stones such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires were also popular. Emeralds and rubies were cut into cabochons and faceted cuts, while sapphires were mainly cut into cabochons. These precious stones were often set in intricate gold or silver settings to show off their brilliance and beauty.

Influential Designers of the Period

The Victorian era was an influential period for jewelry design, especially with the rise of designer Christopher Dresser. Dresser was one of the leading British designers of the 19th century and helped set the benchmarks for modern day jewelry design. He pushed the boundaries of jewelry design by incorporating traditional craftsmanship with modern aesthetics and focusing on strong geometric forms.

Dresser’s most notable designs were ornamental pins and brooches, bracelets, and necklaces. He often blended different materials such as gold, silver, and diamonds to create unique pieces that defied typical conventions of jewelry. His influence lives on today in modern jewelry design, with many designers looking to his signature motifs and geometric shapes for inspiration.

Identifying authentic Victorian era jewelry can be a challenge, but with the right research and inspection tools, it is possible to find out if your jewelry is an antique or a replica. In this section, we will explore some of the techniques that you can use as you evaluate pieces for their authenticity.


Doing some research into the piece you are looking at is the first step in identifying genuine Victorian era jewelry. This could include searching for the maker’s mark, researching the history of the piece, or discovering which period style it captures. By doing this research, you’ll gain an understanding of the piece and its characteristics and get an idea of how old it might be.


The styling of the piece is another important factor in determining its authenticity. Examine it carefully to determine if the piece has any characteristic features of Victorian era jewelry, such as intricate details, ornate engraving, or sentimental motifs. Also, take note of any modern design elements that might be present, as these can be indicators that the piece was produced recently.


The materials used in the making of the jewelry can also offer clues as to its age. Gold and silver have been used in jewelry making for centuries, but during the Victorian era, certain gemstones were frequently employed. Look for stones such as diamonds, pearls, rubies, and sapphires, which were common in pieces from this era.


The condition of the piece is also key when determining its authenticity. If the jewelry is pristine, it is more likely to be new. However, if it shows signs of wear and tear, then it is more likely to be an antique. Look for discoloration, scratch marks, and worn stones when evaluating the piece.


If the piece of jewelry comes with any documentation, such as receipts, certificates, or appraisals, it is much easier to verify the authenticity. These documents can help you to ascertain the official age of the piece and provide evidence of its origin.

By considering the factors outlined in this section, you can gain some insight into whether the Victorian era jewelry that you are looking at is an antique or a replica. With careful observation and research, you will be able to identify the genuine article and make a confident decision about whether or not to purchase it.

Enduring Style

The Victorian era produced some of the most beautiful and timeless pieces of jewelry. Despite having ended over a century ago, the designs that have endured have influenced modern jewelry making. Engagement rings, for example, are still made to reflect classic designs from this era. To this day, they remain the most popular style of engagement ring amongst couples.

The styling of Victorian era jewelry has been adapted over time to meet the demands of modern fashion. However, the essential features of beauty and sentimentality remain the same. It is these features that make it so special and timeless. With each piece, a little bit of history is preserved; a moment in time that has been captured and shared with generations to come.


Victorian era jewelry has a long and rich history that continues to influence modern jewelry design. Everything from the use of symbolism to convey feelings of love, loyalty and friendship, to popular gemstone cuts and designer styles, all have their roots in this era. Whether searching for sentimental gifts or looking to add a unique piece to your own collection, Victorian era jewelry offers an interesting array of options.

In conclusion, Victorian era jewelry is a timeless reminder of the powerful emotions jewelry can evoke. It is a beautiful representation of the intricate detail and craftsmanship each piece contains, embodying the feelings of love, romance, and friendship.

FAQs – Victorian Era Jewelry

  • Q: What is the history of Victorian Era Jewelry?
    A: Jewelry in the Victorian era flourished from 1837-1901 during Queen Victoria’s reign. Pearl, diamond, and gold designs were popular, as were intricate stylings and engravings. Sentimental pieces such as lockets, friendship pins, and mourning jewelry were also made to convey love, loyalty, and emotion.
  • Q: How was jewelry used to express sentiment during this period?
    A: Sentimental jewelry convey deep feelings of love and emotion during this period. Popular symbols and designs such as flowers, verses, and universal designs were also used to communicate love and loyalty.
  • Q: What were some of the popular motifs of the era?
    A: Popular motifs of the era could be monograms, lover’s knots, stars, crescents, arrows, and cameo. These symbolism communicated the ideals and values of the era.
  • Q: What was Queen Victoria’s signature look?
    A: Queen Victoria’s signature look consisted of delicate gold filigree with small gems, pearls, and enamel, often in the form of brooches and necklaces.
  • Q: What metals, gemstones, and engraving techniques were used in Victorian era jewelry designs?
    A: Some popular metals used were gold, copper, filled gold, and silver, while some popular gemstones included rose-cut and cabochon diamonds, turquoise, glass and agate cameos, and opals. Engraving techniques such as casting, punching, and die-sinking were used.
  • Q: What tips can I use to identify authentic antique jewelry from the Victorian era?
    A: Tips for identifying authentic antique jewelry from Victorian era include conducting online research, inspecting jewelry hallmarks, visiting an experienced appraiser, and understanding the pricing points of each era.
  • Q: How have styles from the Victorian period endured in modern day jewelry design?
    A: Styles from the Victorian period has had an immense impact on modern day jewelry design. For example, engraving, filigree details, and rose gold remain popular in modern engagement rings.