Queen Victoria, reigning for an astonishing sixty three years and seven months was the world famous style icon of the period. Her day to day pioneering fashion and jewellery choices were adopted with vigour by the public, enabled by the industrialisation of the printing press which could circulate newspapers quickly and in vast numbers which documented in intricate detail for the first time the comings and goings of the Royal family as well as their trend setting fashions.
Jewellery was an important aspect of Victoria's life, each piece being a memento of a particular celebration. The Queen was very interested in fashion, the corresponding jewels to match and keenly accepted new materials and new techniques in her jewellery creations.
During the happy days of her marriage, her jewellery choices reflected this relationship and associated family ties. Many of her jewellery pieces were sentimental pieces given to her by Albert who took a keen interest in the designing of her jewellery. Miniatures of loved ones set as jewels or heart shaped pieces of jewellery were frequent gifts. One such was Victoria's heart shaped pendant containing a lock of Albert's hair- which she seldom took off. Novelties, acrostic jewellery such as ‘dearest' rings and symbolism were favourite features of the jewellery. Snakes symbolising ‘wisdom', the ‘renewal of life' and ‘everlasting love' again featured frequently, for example Queen Victoria's engagement ring was shaped in the form of a serpent. Flower imagery, with the associated ‘language of flowers' incorporating secret meanings again were extremely popular. With the purchase of the Balmoral Estate in Scotland in 1848, Victoria discovered a new passion- this time for jewellery composed of Scottish agates or ‘pebbles'.
In December 1861, the death of Albert threw Victoria into mourning. Victoria's jewellery taste transformed instantly to fit in with the ridged rules of mourning attire. Only pearls, diamonds and jet jewellery were permitted due to their absence of colour. Until her dying day, Victoria portrayed the image of her personal tragedy, wearing black clothing in combination with vast quantities of ‘colourless' diamond, pearl and jet jewellery.
Jewellery dating to the Victorian period is particularly beautiful and Queen Victoria's taste was instrumental in the designs. Take a look at some of the varied pieces of jewellery of the Victorian age as selected by Berganza.