Memorial jewellery is one of the most significant ways to commemorate the loss of a loved one, and the long-lived history of memorial jewellery has shown how meaningful they have been throughout hundreds of eras. Although memorial jewellery is viewed as traditional and sometimes ancient, they certainly are one of the most personable jewellery items you can find, especially when looking into antique memorial jewellery.
Berganza’s memorial jewellery can be dated back to the Georgian era, with stunning pieces featuring memorial rings and other jewellery items such as brooches and lockets. Memorial jewellery has shown many variations throughout history, but no time has been as monumental for memorial jewellery as the Victorian era was.
Although we can see traces of memorial jewellery as far back as Ancient Rome, the peak of memorial jewellery was during the Victorian era which dates between 1837-1901. Not only is this era known for its advanced developments and scientific discoveries, but it was an era for following the famous trends that Queen Victoria started, one of these trends being the mandatory use of memorial jewellery. Memorial jewellery and its popularity was an unfortunate result of the Queen losing her beloved Prince Albert in 1861. His death called for prolonged mourning for the Queen, forty years to be exact. The mourning period entailed a multitude of different fashion trends including wearing all-black clothing at all times, in addition to only wearing memorial jewellery for the Queen and those around her. This also extended to the wider public who saw Queen Victoria as an influential force within fashion and everything else.
It can be difficult to find mourning jewellery that is just as personable and meticulously made as antique memorial jewellery, however, we are now seeing the resurfacing of people interested to acquire such jewellery items. There are some rarities to be found within the Berganza collection, whether you prefer the gothic styles of memorial jewellery within the Georgian Era or you admire the meaningful styles from the Victorian era, there is something for everyone.
Victorian memorial jewellery reached its peak due to the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert. Mourning styles became a mandatory part of the Queen's fashion choices during her 40-year mourning period, following jet-black colour schemes. In comparison to the gothic Georgian styles of memorial jewellery that served as a reminder of the promise of death, Victorian-styled memorial jewellery saw much more romantic and meaningful styles, designed to commemorate the loved one and their legacy.
Mourning jewellery featured many variations of symbols and messages that were significant for the person, with even the inclusion of human hair. One of the most recognisable memorial jewellery features is the addition of the locks of hair of a loved one, and this helped to create the personality and long-lasting love for the person to be captured within the valuable keepsake.
Typical memorial jewellery in the Victorian era was usually engraved with the name of the lost loved one, their date of birth, or the date of their death. Individuals also chose to use specific symbols such as willow trees, clouds, flowers, and other soft imagery used for different purposes.
Willow trees engraved onto memorial jewellery were used to commemorate the death of an unmarried person. Additionally, insects were used symbolically on memorial jewellery to reflect the idea of reincarnation, and for mourners to embrace the transformations in life.
Antique mourning jewellery from the Victorian era has very unique and identifiable features that make it distinguishable from modern memorial jewellery items. For example, they would often include the inscription of “in memory of'' with the addition of the lost one's name.
This is just one feature highlighting the mourning purpose, however, the antique memorial jewellery styles were also prominent in their use of symbols such as willow trees, floral patterns, and plaited hair included with the designs. Mourning jewellery such as brooches, memorial rings, and lockets were the most popular uses of antique memorial jewellery, and they most commonly featured dark gems, enamel, or the less costly alternative of Fresh Jet (black glass).
Aside from the death of Prince Albert commencing the 40-year mourning period and the importance of memorial jewellery, it is important to understand that experiencing death during the time of the Victorian era was a common experience. The unfortunate surge of diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, and scarlet fever were just a few of the 13 widespread diseases that circulated taking many lives during the Victorian era. Memorial jewellery served as a form of solace for the bereavements and to keep them close and to ease the mourning period. They are beautiful ways to commemorate these people, whilst also serving as valuable heirlooms to pass on through generations.
We have seen a shift within the designs for memorial jewellery, and whilst they still act as reminders for our lost loved ones, they have steered away from traditional gothic themes that were revolutionary during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Modern memorial jewellery might include the birthstone of the lost loved one, and also the use of incineration jewellery has become prominent. This is essentially the inclusion of your lost loved one's ashes within the design of the ring or within the gemstone itself. The memorial jewellery items can be necklaces, rings, cufflinks, and charms; overall a wide selection of mourning jewellery can be created with cremation ash.