Victorian Mourning Era Jewelry

Victorian Mourning era jewelry is one of the most fascinating artifacts ever produced, and it was created as part of Europe’s elaborate Death and Dying traditions. During the Victorian period, death was viewed differently than today and mourning jewelry served a variety of purposes.

Not only was it beautiful in its design, but it also symbolized deep feelings of grief for the deceased, which makes it unique even in modern times. In addition, the symbolism behind this jewelry can provide valuable insight into death practices from that time period which can be educational to explore.

The Architecture and Design of Victorian Mourning Jewelry

Victorian Mourning Era jewelry is known for its intricate designs, often featuring symbols like a willow tree or a wreath made from laurel leaves. Since these items were made to represent someone who had died, they were typically adorned with fragmented Black Ebony stones instead of bright precious gems like Rubies or Diamonds.

Jet was also a popular material during this time due to its ability to mimic coal – something associated with death in folklore and other stories at the time. This carefully crafted artistry creates an almost hauntingly beautiful piece that still resonates with viewers today.

Significance of Victorian Mourning Jewelry

Besides being a touching way to remember someone who has passed on, Victorian mourning jewelry also serves as an indicator of social status and overall wealth during that time period. To own these pieces meant having the resources to purchase them without competing for daily necessities first. The craftsmanship behind each item was exquisite too and many jewelers took extra care during production in order to ensure that no unnecessary details remained.

It is believed that some people would even pass down their pieces through several generations in order to keep them safe rather than trading them off due to their priceless sentimental value alone. Finally, they serve as important testament to how generations before us might have dealt with loss and how grieving has evolved over time into what it is now today.

Historical Context

Mourning jewelry of the Victorian Era had far more significance than it does today. Not only was it worn to show respect for the memory of a deceased loved one, but its intricacy and symbolism were a reflection of the popular aesthetic and customs of that era. Society placed great emphasis on forms of etiquette related to expressing grief, including accessorizing with appropriate mourning attire or jewelry.

Obvious symbols such as skulls or coffins took on high levels of significance giving visual cues to those around them as an individual’s mourning period. Individuals typically wore a signifying piece in connections with commemorative days such as funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, and after grieving over several years if desired.

Jeweled mementos such as lockets or brooches could be part hair ornaments while these pieces often included somber images such as the iconic jet glass encased spiders and snakes known to fit in well with darker color schemes.

During this era, mourning jewelry was also associated with spiritualism which was extremely popular at that time too. The public had a great interest in contacting the dead and bereaved families wore special charms inscribed with requiems for their deceased relatives as way to commemorate them.

Additionally, mourners also wore accessories engraved with epitaphs including the decedents law name coupled with an image from popular stories from literature at that time. Elements like these made these fashionable items both an extended expression of grief and an object full of meaning for those wearing them daily.

Although death has always been apart of life hundreds of years ago having physical representations memorializing someone’s passing may have served people not just emotionally but even spiritually through superstitions and beliefs surrounding spirits staying close by until they crossed into heaven or hell respectively; this presented a unique comfort amidst loss felt by many during the Victorian era.

After several months when individuals moved out of deep sorrow due family members deaths they would stop wearing their mourning relics; however While those who deeply grieved could showcase different stages and symbolically dictate how much time had passed since someone’s death by changing style, color or type jewelry in tune with societal norms.


Victorian Mourning jewelry was popular during the 1800s when Queen Victoria of England which reigned from 1837 to 1901. In the Victorian Era, there were strict rules and customs associated with mourning that had to be observed.

Women wore clothing, hats and veils mainly in black as a sign of respect and mourning for the deceased family member. This period also saw a great fascination with memorializing death as well as with commemorative images and jewelry worn to honor the departed.

Victorian Mourning jewelry not only enjoyed popularity in England but also in many countries across Europe including France, Italy, Germany and Sweden. Although traditions varied slightly between these countries at this time, all followed the same basic conventions regarding their use of brooches, pendants, lockets or rings inscribed with mottos like “In memory of” followed by a name, date or phrase that served to evoke happy memories of the deceased person.

Victorians crafted such memorabilia using traditional materials of mother-of-pearl, jet glass or wax founds that were occassionally ornated with pearls or gold details in more somber colors such as grey or black colors. Rosaries and medal sets were two common tokens present during funeral services from which visitors would take small souvenirs away with them (like miniature sprigs of flowers) briefly garlanded on patient caskets during funeral processions.

Such items were kept for years afterwards as an ongoing reminder of those passed away and whose legacy was still cherished beyond their final days.


When researching the creation of jewelry for the Victorian Mourning Era, there are a few key sources that can give insight into what was popular during this time. To begin with, studying materials used in other art forms such as clothing, books and paintings provides valuable information. In terms of mourning jewelry specifically, examining photographs and portraits from this period can provide valuable details such as the shapes and sizes of jewels favored during that time.

Additionally, newspaper accounts also provide clues to how mourning jewelry was viewed and bought by the public. This source often shows small anecdotes of how particular pieces were made or stories about recipients being given gifts of mourning jewelry.

Another effective research method is consulting local archives to uncover records related to 19th century funerals which often contain the names of those involved along with their associated purchases. Such bespoke items offer a glimpse at what types of pieces were chosen for specific occasions including lockets containing strands of hair from deceased loved ones or rings memorializing a special date.

Metal Jewelry Victorian Era

Furthermore these documents can be combined with other resources like historic price lists to estimate or compare costs associated with different types of mourning jewelry – providing further insight into its manufacture and consumption.

Finally one must consider the influences from abroad when researching jewelry from this era since popularity styles changed rapidly due to advances in communication accessibility coupled with evolving tastes in fashion across Europe and America. During this time various motifs were introduced such as black enamelling on gold, trinkets embedded with coral or carvings featuring chalcedony resulting in highly decorative pieces that could take many hours to construct by hand.

By gaining a better understanding into where these trends originated it becomes much easier to appreciate their significance within the larger context and recognize each item’s unique appeal which ultimately allowed them to become treasured reminders of our collective past during this period.


The Victorian era was known for its mourning jewelry, featuring a variety of symbolic designs that were popular during the period. These designs were often used as a way to commemorate the death of a beloved family member or friend.

Jewelers would craft pieces of jewelry that featured symbolism such as broken hearts, anchors and weeping willows – all signs of grief and mourning. Some other popular symbols found on these pieces include snake bands, which represented eternity; clasped hands for friendship; ivy leaf clusters symbolizing undying devotion; skull and crossbones representing mortality; crescents to represent hope; sunbursts representing everlasting life; tear drops depicting sorrow; and stars to signify heavenly guidance.

The materials used in the construction of Victorian mourning jewelry also held meaning. Gold was often used due to its timelessness, while silver beads or jewelry could represent peace and purity. Jet was another type of material common in this era’s designs, symbolizing pain and grief due to its black hue.

Hair jewellery was another popular style – not only did it provide physical comfort through touch but also served as an everlasting tribute by being able to carry a lock of deceased loved one’s hair with you at all times. Cameos featuring these remembrances were very fashionable at the time as they provided an outwardly cheerful appearance while simultaneously providing private memorials.

Over the years the symbols in Victorian mourning jewelry have gone on to form part of popular culture today, making them both beautiful memorials honoring our lost loved ones as well as aesthetic decorations we can still use today even centuries after their creation first began. The symbolism is timeless and carries with it special connotations for each individual that wears these pieces, whether for commemoration or fashion purposes – allowing us to keep our lost ones closer than ever before.


The Victorian Mourning Era was a period of sorrow, mourning, and remembrance that took hold of the late 1800s after Queen Victoria’s husband died. During this time it become increasingly popular to wear jewelry to express mourning or reminder of someone who has passed. It became fashionable to open jewelry shops that focused on this emotional expression in their designs.

Some of the popular forms for jewelry during this era ranged from brooches and lockets to bracelets and rings – all being decorated with motifs depicting death, burial, faith, hope, love and sorrowful poetry. Brooches were particularly decorative pieces that showcased a variety of different shapes depending largely on their intended purpose or message. They could come in shapes such as keys, crucifixes and hearts; each one reverently representing (or wearing) the emblem of death.

Lockets held portraits or personal mementos, with miniature glass frames in which expressions of sentimentality, grief and remembrance could be kept close solace at all times. Rings had symbols carved onto them so they could be worn day-today while still showing the wearers respect to those gone before them.

The once simple styles of jewelry that could be purchased during the Victorian era were being replaced by mood pieces adorned with closed eyes indicating slumber, skull emblems and numerous other memorabilia symbols offering comfort to others who lost loved ones without having to further explain themselves in words.

Jewelry was a common way for people to display devoted attitude for their fargone relatives; demonstrating lasting love even after death had already taken its course; effectively displaying victory over suffering through these symbolic motifs essential stored away within the most personal treasures found within closets full jewellery boxes worldwide.


The Victorian Mourning Era jewelry was created during the reign of Queen Victoria of the UK, after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. This period was a time of deep sorrow and grief and this inspired both women and men to express their mourning through a unique style of jewelry, meant to commemorate the deceased.

These pieces were typically blaclists in or purple enamel or jet, often including intricate carvings representing a range of mythological stories or floral patterns. During this era, an entire industry emerged around this type of jewelry and there were many skilled craftspeople, who employed highly sophisticated techniques to create these beautiful pieces all over Europe.

The production process for this type of jewelry started with crafting the basic shape out of either silver or gold using specialized tools such as planishing hammers, panshaping tools and drills. The jeweler then added texture via engraving and chasing until a desired motif was achieved.

After that stage, intricate embellishments were added using cloisonne enamel which allowed for different colors and designs on part of the jewellery surface. Then it would be molded into its final form before being cleaned and polished to give it its glossy finish.

Some pieces also included cabochons, a type of domed stone set inverted into a rim formed inside precious metal settings which highlight their color. There were also Victorian beads used on necklaces made from materials including glass-cut crystal quartz, pearls as well as other gems such as garnets and amethysts.

Slowly but surely these pieces became more elaborate while also reflecting advanced techniques such as die-stamping where flat dies are pressed by hand onto metal sheets in order to replicate desired shapes onto multiple matching settings.

Overall the Victorian Mourning Era jewelry reflects the craftsmanship skill level prevalent at the time making them true objects d’art that will remain cherished for years to come by future generations.

Victorian Era Jewelry


The craftsmanship seen in the Victorian Mourning Era jewelry is a testament to the talent and expertise of those living during the era. Jewelry makers in Britain, France, and Germany crafted some of the most exquisite pieces that are still cherished today, as a reminder of days past. In looking at particular types of jewelry from this period, one can see the differences between English, French, and German craftsmanship styles.

In examining English artifacts from this period, it is easy to notice that many pieces were created with delicate detailing and typically feature high carat gold settings along with gemstones like sapphires. Particularly noteworthy are the intricate filigree pieces created by master artisans from England that featured designs including roses, forget-me-nots or even crucifixes. These artisans were certainly adept at combining precious materials with a delicate touch as evidenced by their memorable pieces and designs.

French jewelry craftsmen edged towards more ornate styles which often effused Rococo influences. Many of their brooches and pendants featured an abundance of detailing that showed touches of rocaillé work along with gold relief designs on enamel friezes often finished with diamond borders around the outer edges. These works certainly revealed traces of French elegance through will well – placed carvings and accents around metalwork’s contours.

Finally ,German craftsmen favored heavier figurative work involving engraving in both gold and silver settings , often set off with bold motifs such as skulls or bows. With these interpretations , German jewellers made sure to fashion ornamentation that could enthral observers by utilizing expertly sculpted technological details during technique application.

Overall it can be said that each nation had its own unique approach to crafting Fine arts from this era. Each country’s individual style reveals distinct characteristics within patterns so no two countries had exactly similar objects. This helps explain why there was such an appreciation for quality craftsmanship during this period , as witnessed by these beautiful period pieces still present today.


Caring for and preserving Victorian mourning jewelry requires special attention and effective methods of preservation, as it is an especially fragile piece of history. The items are usually made with soft metals (such as copper) that are prone to scratches and tarnish.

For this reason, it should not be exposed to moisture or sweat as much as possible. Jewelry should always remain dry when being stored in a container; protective containers such as cloth bags will help prevent tarnishing due to exposure to the air.

Another important step in caring for Victorian mourning jewelry is taking care when handling the piece. When removing it from its case, do so gently and delicately, because rough movement may cause damage or dirt accumulation on the jewelry.

Similarly, certain pieces should only be professionally adapted or taken apart by qualified experts who understand the unique nature of the piece’s components and how gentle movements of these must be handled. A simple cleaning with a soft cloth can remove dust and dirt build-up without damaging the antique gold coating or patina.

When storing jewelry pieces from this era it is important to ensure that pieces don’t come into contact with each other, which may result in scratching both items – thus decreasing the value of both pieces at once. For this reason, it is recommended to store individual pieces in their own separate hard cases or pouches at all times to avoid any potential for damage caused by contact between two inherently delicate items.

Finally, preserving heirloom pieces on display (in museums, showcases etc.)

position them in an upright manner facing away from direct sunlight; doing so will minimize UV radiation exposure which can lead to fading of gemstones used in these designs after prolonged periods of time. Remember, proper handling and storage are crucial steps required when maintaining a Victorian mourning jewelry’s integrity.


Mourning era jewelry was popular during the Victorian era of the mid 19th century. It has a distinct look that harks back to a time where death and ritualistic memorialization were an intrinsic part of life.

It was seen as part of the duty of bereaved families to wear symbols of their grief as a public sign of respect for the deceased. This tradition spilled over into much of the aesthetic jewellery designs that incorporated special elements, such as black enamels, pearls, and mourning motifs like memento mori skulls and snakes intertwined with bones – an arresting reminder for those living to savor their mortality.

In modern times, mourning jewelry has been reimagined in high fashion couture runways. White Gucci dresses encrusted with Swarovski-embellished mourning axes are just one example of this looming trend interpreted today.

The association between grief and glamour has found resurgence in Olivia Hayden’s 2014 collection which featured traditional mourning jewelry visuals infused with urban scenes from her own work experiences – providing new perspective on modern day sorrow. Similarly, designer Luella Bartley used mourning symbolism to evoke emotions in her collection by combining long beaded chains with skull charms – juxtaposing childhood fun against adult reality.

From collections made up entirely out of black diamonds, like Lorraine Shwartz’s ‘Blackout’ series – solidifying a physical incarnation of her feelings after losing her mother – to garments designed to typographically interpret death lyrics through tactile embroidery – Mourning are continues to pervade culture.

Indeed, now could be an even more fitting time than ever before; as unprecedented events often cause societies everywhere cup pause and reflect upon our personal histories while gaining insight into how we move forward no matter how difficult things may get.

Excitingly, each generation brings new designers who will inevitably use today’s cultural relevancies in artful ways – creating meaningful interpretations from their own experiences and perspectives which we can wear around our necks or on our fingers – allowing us celebrate the beautiful lives lost forevermore.

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