Victorian Mourning Jewelry

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Maureen DeLorme's book, Mourning Art & Jewelry, published April, 2004. This stunning book is the only complete work on Mourning customs and jewelry. Many pieces from my personal collection are featured. (See Reference Books under "Links" for more information.)
Item: Description: Victorian Mourning  Jewelry Victorian Mourning Jewelry Victorian  Price:


THE WINDOW OF THE SOUL ( Antique Georgian Jewelry Lover's Eye Portrait Miniature Pendant / Brooch ): Eyes have long been thought of as the “windows of the soul”, alternately revealing and concealing one's deepest thoughts and feelings. A “Lover's Eye” miniature is a painting of the giver's eye presented to a loved one. The notion accompanying their short-lived fad (c. 1790-1830) was that the eye would be recognizable only to the recipient and usually worn hidden from view. One popular theory as to the origin of the Eye Portrait has its roots from the late 18th Century when the flamboyant, style-setting Prince of Wales was refused permission by his father, King George III, and by British law to wed the widowed (and Catholic) Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. The widow avoided the Prince's proposal by escaping to Europe. In order to keep his romance with her a secret from the disapproving court, an Eye Miniature was conceived. Apparently the gift of his gaze did the trick and they were secretly (and illegally) married. In turn the bride had her eye painted in order that she might covertly present it to the Prince. Soon nobility followed the Prince's lead and the trend spread to the continent taking Europe by storm. The Prince, turned King George IV, was found to be wearing Mrs. Fitzherbert's intimate eye miniature when he died. These eye miniatures were an extremely intense manifestation of an already emotionally charged art. Some eye miniatures were expressions of love and loss, which later grew to include friendship and portraits of children. Queen Victoria revived the genre by giving portraits of her eye to favored relatives and advisors. I purchased this Georgian piece over 40 years ago and have always been struck by the bold gaze of a woman's very blue right eye. The marquise shaped rose gold setting is framed by black dot paste stones. The reverse is delicately engraved and contains a hair memento of the loved one under glass. The safety 14 KT clasp pin back is a replacement or possibly an addition. The ring and safety chain at the top appear to be original. The brooch may be worn as a pendant by threading a chain or ribbon through the ring. These very personal love tokens from 200 years ago are very rare and highly prized. I know that I have loved this one!

Condition: Excellent. The original safety chain is still in place. Some wear to engraving on back and a tiny chip at the base of glass cover. Neck chain not included.
Size: 1 3/4” high, 1 1/8” wide. Eye wafer 1 3/8” high, 3/4” wide.



IN HEAVEN & IN MY HEART ( Antique Georgian Sepia Mourning Jewelry Pair of Pearl Bracelets ): As may of you may have noticed, I am in the process of offering my exceptional personal collection of Mourning Jewelry to caring collectors who will become caretakers of my treasured pieces. It is a form of mourning in itself as I have loved and taken pride in the ownership of such meaningful mementos. This French “book piece” is a very rare matching set of Georgian sepia bracelets. The pair have exceptional 18th Century (c. 1770-90) sepia, watercolor and hairwork clasps with pearl bracelets of wonderful quality and the subject mater is so touching. Each navette shaped clasp depicts a different mourning scene hand painted with tender delicacy and accented with hair. In one clasp the mourning woman is represented as a shepherdess with two lambs. A popular theme in 18th Century pastoral paintings, lambs were a common symbol for a child's death – gentleness, purity and innocence as well as sacrificial love as personified in Christ. Just to keep the mourning women busy, she is also seen searching for her beloved and is writing his name. In the other clasp she is placing a funeral wreath on a tree in his memory. The six rows of pearls are replacements for the original eight rows of smaller pearls. Tongue and groove closures lock the clasps in place. In my possession for 20 years, these rare and outstanding bracelets are pictured in Maureen DeLorme's informative book “Mourning Art and Jewelry”, page 82. These rare sepia and pearl bracelets would be a timeless centerpiece to add to any collection.

Condition: Very good. The shepherdess clasp has a crack in the surface of the painting, some wear on back of clasp. Other clasp has a small flaw at bottom of the glass cover. The rarity of these 225+ year old pieces makes the slight flaws acceptable.
Size: Clasps are 3/4” wide, 1 1/4” long. Total bracelet length 7 1/4”, 1” wide.



HAIR THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): I am offering you this very fine pair of table worked hair earrings. (c. 1850-70) These earrings, with 9 KT gold findings, seem to represent acorns surrounded by finely worked tubular hair. These could be memorial earrings or gifts of sentimental remembrance. Acorns usually mean power and tribute, or these may be a token of nature so beloved by the Victorians. Each earring has a cluster of three table worked hair acorns topped by a golden leaf. These beauties are suspended from a hair acorn with a floral shaped center and retain their original kidney wire closures. Special hairwork earrings like these are rare and becoming harder to find without damage. These are superb examples of the love and the care taken with delicate treasures of a live well lived. What a treat to own these special “ear bobs”.

Condition: Excellent. All original, handle with care as they have survived for over 150 years.
Size: From top of hook 1 7/8” long. Dangle 1 1/8” long, 7/8” wide, 1/4” deep.



BELOVED SYMBOLIC SERPENT ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Snake Brooch ): The serpent is probably the best known and most successful motif drawn from the animal world. Beloved by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert designed her betrothal ring in the form of a snake with its tail in its mouth – symbolic of everlasting love. The snake also symbolized eternity, guardian spirit and wisdom. This large table worked Hair Snake Brooch (c. 1840-60) is made over a hard core to form all of the coiled loops involved in the body. The 9 KT gold head and tail are engraved with delicate details and the eyes are bezel set with cabochon garnets. The pin stem and C clasp catch are original to the piece. Regal, yet simple, this snake memorial piece is highly desirable and a great favorite with collectors.

Condition: Very good. Small area of wear on bottom of loop below snake head.
Size: 2 1/8” wide, 1 5/8” high.



THE BROKEN COLUMN ( Antique Victorian Enamel Mourning Jewelry Locket with Hairwork ): From my personal collection, this “book piece” is one of my last examples of enamel lockets as pictured in Maureen DeLorme's informative book “Mourning Art and Jewelry”, pages 95 and 96. (A copy of the book is listed for sale on our site as MJ166.) This is a lovely English “In Memory Of” pendant/locket. (c. 1860-80) Lockets such as these typically feature death/mourning motifs – urns, garlands, crosses, etc. - on the outside. The scene of the front of this oval 9 KT gold mourning locket depicts, in black and white enamel, a broken column girded by Forget-Me-Nots circling the column and two Morning Glories at its base. Very popular with both Georgian and Victorian mourners, the broken column indicates an early death; life cut short too soon. The Morning Glories signify farewell, brevity of life as symbolized by the flowers opening and closing within one day, departure and mortality. Add to this the swag of Forget-Me-Nots denoting remembrance and you have the complete picture so touchingly personified by the inclusion of the double hair curls and hand tinted photo of a woman dressed in mourning attire. (Both under celluloid covers.) Often compartments of such lockets are found to be empty – it is rare to find the original hair and photo. The front edge and the entire back are covered with finely engraved decorations and the picture on the cover is decorated with superb quality black and white vitreous enamel. A touching tribute to a beloved loss.

Condition: Excellent. Closes firmly and original O ring bale still attached. (Chain not included.)
Size: 1 1/2” high, 1 1/8” wide, 1/4” deep.



SWEET PLEDGE OF REMEMBRANCE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): You will see lots of tubular hairwork designs but this brooch is quite unusual. (c. 1860-80) It may have been a sentimental token or a memorial piece. It has a certain playfulness that says to me “sentimental” sharing. This brown table worked four layer looped design is dressed with tiny gold caps and four golden bars used to hold the shape in place. Sitting three tiers high, this oblong brooch is accented with a golden forget-me-not blossom holding a pearl at its center, reminding all who admire this hair brooch that the forget-me-not adornment signals “remembrance”. There is a very nice curved back plate holding the four golden bars and the original long pin stem with its C clasp. Notice how plump the loops are – yet it is all worked in a small space. A true pledge of remembrance that calls from the past.

Condition: Very good. There is a tiny bit of loss in one of the two short loops beneath the flower petals. Always handle open hairwork with care.
Size: 2” long, 7/8” high, 5/8” deep.



TINY TOKEN OF DEVOTION ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Ring ): Although I seldom purchase dainty jewelry – preferring large pieces myself – this tiny mourning ring spoke to me with its simplicity of sentiment. Lovingly worn, this treasured mourning ring contains gray braided hair bezel set in a glass locket compartment. (c. 1893) This delicate gold ring has a full set of English hallmarks inside of the band – 5 marks in fact! The hallmarks indicate that this ring was made in London in 1893 of 22 KT gold and it has the maker's mark “W.W.” The ring size is 7 1/2. Petite and discrete, this feminine Antique Mourning Ring is a touchstone from the past, an age where grief and remembrance were an integral part of life.

Condition: Excellent. All original. Slight signs of wear commensurate with age and use.
Size: Ring size 7 1/2. Oval glass compartment 3/8” high, 1/4” wide.



FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE ( Antique Victorian Jewelry Bone Cross Pendant ): One of the marvels of antique jewelry is the layers of symbols incorporated in each piece. This superior Victorian Bone Cross, with a hand carved Cherub head at its center, was often used as a “cradle cross”. (c. 1869-1890) Hung above a baby's cradle, it provided protection against evil and blessings from above. A charming idea that could be used today. The little Cherub has tiny curls of hair and perfect, detailed feathered wings. The cross is solid rounded bone, not hollow or flat. It has been hand carved to show thorns. Outstanding in its entirety, this good sized cross is the perfect size to wear on a chain. When a young child died – all to frequently – it could be placed in the coffin to assure eternal rest. The soft radiance and patina of this antique cross can not be matched. (You can see the distinct grain on the three rounded ends of the cross.) Since this piece came from my personal collection I had a 14 KT gold bale added. I wore it on two strands of small ivory beads and it always brought me compliments. Mix the color of bone with jet and you can be stepping out of today's fashion magazines. A Heavenly piece of jewelry to wear, own and display!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Cross is 4” high (not including bale), 2” wide, 1/2” deep. Cherub head is 3/4” high, 1 1/8” wide, 3/8” deep.



GRACEFUL HAIR PLUME ( Antique Georgian Bone Hair Decorated Patch Box Pendant ): Originally this circular bone pendant was a Georgian (c. 1790-1800) patch box used by ladies to keep tiny decorative fabric cut-out designs that they would apply to their face and bosom to highlight a good feature or cover a blemish. It was the fashion to wear a heart, rose, star or even a carriage with horses – that was a big patch! I believe that this was a sentimental gift, not a mourning piece. A graceful plume of brown hair curls softly under the glass with the initials “DEB”. Since this box comes from my private collection it has a gold band to keep the box closed and a bale with a tiny bone bead to make it a charming pendant. I wore this pendant often and people were always fascinated with the idea of wearing patches. When I was young I would wear a black or red velvet hear on my cheek for “special occasions”. What ever happened to special occasions? Be a confidant woman or collector knowing that no one else has what you have. Own this very special piece of hair art.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Pendant is 1 5/8” in diameter, 5/8” deep, hangs 2 3/8” with bale. Covered plume of hair 1” diameter.



FANCIFUL EAR BOBS ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): These dangling earrings may well have been a sentimental token of friendship or affection since they lack the severe simplicity of mourning pieces. This pair of lacy and delicate dark brown Victorian table-worked earrings is a lovely example of mourning/sentimental jewelry. (c. 1850-70) The four tubular oblong hair dangles have 9 KT gold caps at both the top and bottom. They are suspended from two hair orbs similarly capped. The gold shepard's hooks are original. What a treat to have these fanciful “ear bobs” dance near your face with every move of your head. Make room in your collection for these playful, yet delicate, outstanding Antique Hair Earrings.

Condition: Excellent. The oblong dangles are slightly flattened, probably due to being stored in too small a box. The orbs are fully rounded.
Size: The earring hang 2 5/8” long, about 7/8” wide.



MARVELOUS MOURNING BOOK ( Reference Book: Mourning Art & Jewelry ): Purchase Maureen DeLorme's masterful book, “Mourning Art & Jewelry” published in April 2004. This stunning book is the only complete work on Mourning jewelry, clothing, customs, photography, paintings – anything you could ever want to know. I use it as my definitive research book. Many pieces from my personal collection are featured. 254 pages with over 500 colored illustrations. Original price $59.95. A must for beginning or veteran Mourning Jewelry collectors.

Condition: Excellent. I have this one extra copy.
Size: a Table Top size – 11 1/4” high, 8 5/8” wide, 1” thick.



HAND OF LOVE ( Victorian Antique Vulcanite Hand Brooch / Pin ): Hands holding flowers and wreaths were common motifs in jewelry, lithography and cemetery iconography. This Antique Mourning Brooch, made of Vulcanite, shows a hand holding a branch of yew leaves and a wreath of roses. (c. 1880) The Yew tree symbolizes sadness and immortality, the wreath of roses tell us of love and death and symbolizes victory of the deceased and redemption. A lot of messages in one hand!! The ruffled cuff is a nice detail. Hand Brooches are nice to have since they are so sturdy. We don't have to guess at the date of this Antique Hand Brooch. The metal plate on the back bears an English Registry Mark for May 18, 1880. It has its original pin back C clasp closure. A brooch like this one appears on Page 114 of Maureen DeLorme’s fabulous book “Mourning Art & Jewelry”. I wear several of these hand brooches at a time – often in combinations of black and ivory. Reach out your hand for this sweet and timeless expression of love and loss.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 2 3/4” wide, 1 1/8” high, 3/8” deep.



SIBLING MEMORIAL ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Swivel Hair Brooch ): Engraved around the edge:

“S. A. Hockin, obt. May 29, 1854 & his Sister”
“T. E. Petty, obt. April 4th, 1856”

I have handled a number of inscribed mourning pieces but this is the first I can remember memorializing a brother and sister. Having a brother I love dearly, I find that touching. This is not only a large and lovely swivel brooch, the palette-worked blond and light brown hair design on milk glass is in spectacular condition. Time and temperatures often gradually weaken the old glue's grip on the hair, gold wire and seed pearls so that many such pieces you will see have moving parts. Not so for this brooch – all are firmly in place. The front contains a single Prince of Wales curl and swirls of light brown hair (brother?) and an unusual lovely feather and long swirl of blond hair (sister?). All stem from a gold cuff containing 3 seed pearls with a gold bow at one end and a curlicue of gold wire extending from the other. The reverse is covered with tightly woven brown hair with a gold-leaf “chain” around the edge. Both surfaces are covered with protective, slight domed beveled glass. The brooch is in a gold-filled (gold over brass) setting made up of entwined gold “branches” in a broken branch pattern with with four applied engraved gold leaves. There is a replacement pin back with a tubular hinge and early style safety clasp. A spectacular addition to any collection. You will by noticed wearing this eye-dazzling brooch!

Condition: Excellent. Part of the gold leaf on the left is missing, but hardly noticeable.
Size: Total 3” high, 2 1/2” wide, 3/8” deep. Hair compartment 2” high, 1 3/4” wide.



GLITTERING GOLDEN BLONDE BRAIDS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Pin / Brooch ): Judging from their Hair Jewelry, most Victorian's were brunettes, making blonde hair pieces the more desirable. This is a beautiful blonde Antique Woven Hair Brooch (c. 1850-80). The hair – protected under a beveled glass cover – is in an appropriate 14KT gold setting with an inner surround that looks like small nuggets of glittering gold. On magnified examination there are fine linear decorations and various depressions, but no regular pattern. Since there is no black on this brooch, it may well have been a sentiment piece worn to remain close to a loved one. There is a replacement pin stem attached to a plate of metal on the back with a C clasp. It must have been a very early replacement not to have used a safety clasp. Glittering Golden Nuggets surrounding Golden Blonde Braids – a lovely addition to any collection.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Total 1 1/2” wide, 1 1/8” high, 1/4” deep. Hair compartment 1 1/4” wide, 7/8” high.



MAJESTIC MUSEUM QUALITY JET ( Victorian Jewelry Whitby Jet Brooch / Pin ): This outstanding Victorian Whitby Jet Brooch is stunning in size and decorative appeal. (c. 1860-80) The very finest jet ever discovered came from the cliffs around Whitby, England. Jet jewelry and small jet carvings were coveted souvenirs of a visit to this seaside town. The intensity of the black color made jet the perfect stone to reflect the deepest grief of Queen Victoria following the death of her beloved Albert. Quite grand in scale, this breath-taking brooch is superb in every respect. The top layer of the pin is an exquisitely carved “lover's knot” set on a platform high above the base. The oval platform is almost architectural in appearance – made up of waves of jet, multiple decorative perforations and buttons of jet at each end. This kind of carving could only be done by a master and given the amount of jet used it was surely intended for a wealthy client. Fifteen years ago I used to see large pieces like this and thought “how expensive!” Now rarely seen, most such pieces have gone into museums or private collections. This brooch came to me from an estate. It can be worn up and down or sideways. The extended pin stem fastens with a C clasp closure. I would advise wearing this on a jacket or coat – heavy fabric would suit it best. Jet is always majestic, elegant and sophisticated. Fit for a modern day queen!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Huge – 2 3/4” long, 1 1/2” high, 1 1/2” deep.


DELICATE DANCING HAIR DROPS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): This pair of lacy and delicate brown Victorian table-worked earrings is a lovely example of mourning / sentimental jewelry. (c. 1850-70) These dangling earrings may well have been a sentimental token of love and affection since they lack the severe simplicity of mourning pieces. The three tubular hair dangles have 14KT gold caps at both the top and bottom. They are suspended from a circular golden wire cage that contains a single round drop. The shepard’s hook ear wires are original. When you hold them up – or better yet – wear them, you can truly appreciate what an art form this passion for intimate and personal jewelry had become to the Victorians. The rage from mourning and sentimental had risen dramatically after 1850 (the sad loss of Victoria’s husband, Albert) and was considered by many to be a superior choice to the wearing of metallic jewelry. What a treat to have these “ear bobs” dance near your face with every movement. Move over Scarlett O’Hara and make room for the delicacy and refinement of these outstanding Antique Hair Earrings.

Condition: Excellent. Firm with no fraying, dangles retain their original shape. One of the ear wires is slightly bent.
Size: 2” long, 1 1/4" wide, 3/8” deep.

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