Mourning & Sentimental Jewelry
Layaway Available for Purchases of $200.00 or More
** MUST READ **
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:|
SIBLING MEMORIAL ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Swivel Hair Brooch ): Engraved around the edge:
“S. A. Hockin, obt. May 29, 1854 & his Sister”
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.
TWO HUNDRED YEAR OLD URN OF TEARS ( Georgian Mourning Jewelry Hair & Pearl Pin / Brooch ): The workmanship on this palette-worked Georgian Hair Brooch (c. 1790-1810), particularly in fashioning the burial urn, is breath-taking! When first writing this description I went into great detail and the urn alone took 1/2 a page. So I'll summarize. The 3-dimensional urn is made of light and darker brown hair decorated with gold bands and gold orbs. The close-up photo shows it fairly well. What is hard to believe is that all that detail is in an urn only 3/8” tall! Amazing! The urn sits on a bed of grass made from hair and is placed on an oval of ivory with a surround and bow made of gold set with multiple tiny pink seed pearls. The framed urn is surrounded by intersecting “plates” of flat brown hair. All this has remained in pristine condition due to a glass cover – and loving care. The surround of the entire navette-shaped pin is made up of dozens (47 to be exact) seed pearls in a gold setting. The reverse has a glass covered compartment backed by tightly woven dark brown hair with a decoratively engraved 18KT gold setting. There is an old replacement pin stem and C clasp. Each pearl of this pin represents a family's 200 year old tears for a beloved member passed beyond. Help keep this memory alive and pass it on to a family member to cherish.
Condition: Excellent. The only flaw is the discoloration of a few pearls at the top caused by overheating from replacement of the pin stem.
PEARLS FOR PURITY ( Georgian Mourning Jewelry Enamel, Pearl & Hair Ring ): The black enamel indicates this is a Mourning Ring rather than a sentimental one. The pearls surrounding the tightly woven brown hair under crystal represent tears. The use of hair is an intimate, personal and tangible memento of immortality in a very mortal world. I particularly like the fact that the hair and pearls are placed at a slant. Most are symmetrical. It has a 15KT (tested) gold setting with an open band delicately decorated with loops of gold descending in size. This ring (size 6) is most likely in memory of a girl or young woman judging from its feminine appearance. Just think! This lovely Antique Mourning Ring (c. 1810-20) is around 200 years old – and in perfect condition. I know one of you will want to provide a continuation of the centuries of immortality this ring represents - “pearls for purity”. A wonderful gift for a dear friend – or for yourself!
| THE LAST SLEEP ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Baby Portrait Miniature / Pendant ): Today we may think of a painting or photograph of a baby having entered eternal sleep as somewhat unsettling – or even macabre. Unfortunately, the death of babies was relatively common in the 19th Century and such images were emotionally and psychologically filtered into beautiful remembrances by family members overcome with grief. Up until the mid-1800's only the wealthy could afford such a painted portrait miniature, but the invention of the photograph by Louis Daguerre in 1837, followed by multiple improvements, changed all that. It allowed almost any family to visually immortalize their loved ones who had passed beyond. Photographers of the 19th Century earned a large portion of their income taking posthumous photos. Many went to extraordinary efforts to artistically:
“secure the shadow ere the substance perish
I am deeply moved as I hold this beautiful antique gold framed hand tinted photograph of some long-ago mother's precious baby (c. 1870-90). In some areas, such as the folds of the lace, one can see brush strokes and that may be an “LS” along the right edge – the artist's initials. Determining the sex of a Victorian child or baby is difficult since both sexes were usually dressed as girls for formal photos. The reverse is covered by magenta file fabric. You can readily appreciate the care given in arranging this serene setting for this baby's “last sleep”.
Condition: Excellent. It can be displayed on a stand or worn as a pendant. The ring bale swivels.
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.
| ORB OF GOLD ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Bracelet ): I have only owned in my personal collection or sold very few bracelets made of hair. The reason is clear – hair bracelets do not wear well. Most were not covered or shielded. The open ones become easily snagged and damaged when worn. The ones – like this lovely example of an Antique Table-worked Hair Bracelet (c. 1850-80) – that have survived in good condition have most likely been kept in a case for display, though you can actually wear it on special occassions. The table-worked process – as described and displayed in my copy of the “Collector's Encyclopedia of Hairwork Jewelry” by Jeanenne Bell – is incredibly complex. Multiple bobbins hang from a round table with a hole in the middle. One little error in which bobbin goes next and the value plunges. My husband usually finds invisible defects in my jewelry when he photographs them. Not so for this bracelet made of four hollow tubes of hair plaited together. Each end is contained in a hexagonal rose gold fixing leading to a tongue-in-groove tubular clasp with a large dangling Golden Orb at one end marked with a “10” on its ring (probably 10KT). This bracelet is a rare trophy for a collector. Don't pass it by!
| FORGET ME NOT ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Floral Hard Stone Cameo & Banded Agate Pin / Brooch ): Forget-me-nots are commonly used in mourning jewelry since they stand for remembrance and love in the Victorian “language of flowers”. What is uncommon about this Antique Mourning Brooch (c. 1870-90) is the beautiful setting of black banded agates with white bands – perfect for such a memento. Black colored jewelry became very popular in England due to the example set by Queen Victoria following the death of her beloved Prince Albert in 1861. The forget-me-nots are carved as “hard stone” cameos – elevated above their black background. The cameo and the agates are bezel set in “9CT” (marked) settings and soldered together. There is an empty chamber behind the cameo covered with beveled glass – made to hold a lock of hair of photo of the deceased love one. The brooch has a replacement pin back with a safety clasp. This is a scarce piece – combining the Hardstone Cameo and the always popular banded agate.
Condition: Very good. Two small chips – top flower petal and right flower stem.
MEMORY OF DEAR FANNY ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ):
I am particularly moved by the Antique Mourning Jewelry in my collection
bearing inscriptions. This stunning “In Memory Of” Brooch has it all.
The front is decorated with a large central bezel set bull's eye agate
surrounded by six realistic golden ivy leaves extending from their
entwined gold stems. Ivy represents undying affection and eternal live.
The leaves are completely 3-dimensional. There is a black enamel wide
band surrounding the leaves with gold edges and eleven gold ovals with
gold letters spelling “IN MEMORY OF” in ten and a star-like symbol in
the eleventh. The letters are in beautiful calligraphic style. The
reverse side is decorated with Fanny's hair on an opalescent milk glass
base and a glass cover. The hair forms a large curled plum with three
seed pearls at the base. Below the wave is a broken branch with multiple
leaves and a flower in the center. This is surrounded by a wide band of
gold (10KT tested) inscribed with: “Dear Fanny Died” across the top and
“Feb. 7th, 1864 Aged 28 yrs.” across the bottom. It has a C clasp and
intact safety chain. Someone loved Fanny very deeply to have engaged a
hair work artist to create such a lovely, touching customized memorial
Condition: Front – Excellent. Back – Good. The inscription is perfect. There is a small crack in the glass at 12:00 and “antique” dust inside. A length of gold wire has shifted and moved upward. (It actually looks better than the photos suggest.)
Size: 1 3/4” wide, 1 1/8” high, 5/8” deep including agate.
OF SORROW ( Georgian Sepia Painted Mourning Jewelry Ring ):
“Ye weep and it is well! For tears befit earth's parting.”
This Georgian Ring is special not only because it is over 200 years old (c. 1790-1810), but also because it memorializes death so movingly. Bands of black and white enamel, along with their fancy gold edging and the gold dots in the black, set off this poignant sepia painting of a classically dressed woman grieving beside a tomb supporting an urn and bearing the initials “SM”. The two dark shapes above the urn are no doubt birds and the branches of a weeping willow tree droop sorrowfully overhead. A special feature is the “grass” at the bottom made from the hair of the deceased. The painting has a glass cover. This ring is 14KT Rose Gold. With simple gold shoulders and a narrow band, it slides on your finger and is very comfortable to wear. Ring size 8. It appears to have had a carat marking on the band but it is no longer legible, possibly due to sizing.
“But O God it must not be
Keep him, keep him, still from me
Till Thou will take me up to Thee
To dwell with him Eternally.”
Help carry this sweet memory from the far past forward in time.
DOVE ( Victorian Pressed Horn Mourning Jewelry Brooch / Pin ):
Though Mourning Doves are brown rather than black, the shape of the tail
and the plumpness of the body indicate this is a dove rather than a crow
or raven. Mourning Doves are named for their mournful cry and thus make
an appropriate symbol for mourning jewelry. This was probably worn by a
woman in memory of a loved one, but it is masculine enough for a man to
wear. (c. 1880-1900) I feel fairly certain it is made from pressed horn,
rather than Vulcanite. The latter gets a brownish patina over time and
this bird is a very dark black. The molding has great detail – showing
every feather, the eye and the beak. I have tried to show how
3-dimensional he is in our photos. There is a C clasp closure on the
back. You could wear this in memory of someone or simply as a lovely
piece from nature.
Size: 2 1/4” long, 1 1/2” high, 3/8” deep.
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!
Size: Huge – 2 3/4” long, 1 1/2” high, 1 1/2” deep.
LOOPS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): You will see
lots of hair work bows, but this one is quite unusual. (c. 1860-80) It
may have been a sentimental brooch of remembrance or a mourning piece.
It has a certain playfulness that says to me “sentimental” sharing. This
is a brown table-worked double loop bow with lots of extra loops. It is
also possibly a homemade piece – a hobby common in many homes. Handwork
was an acceptable way for Victorian ladies to pass their time. Thus
beaded flowers, shell ornaments, pressed flowers, miniature gardens
under glass, scrapbooks and needle work were among their more common
hobbies. What makes me think this almost square “bow” may have been
homemade is the steel clasp seen on the the back with the extended pin
stem and C clasp. The back plate is unusually small and the pin
unusually long for the clasp. A professional more commonly used gold or
silver and would use a more conventional clasp size. However, only a
very skilled woman could have worked a pattern as complex as this one.
Notice how plump the loops are – yet it is all worked in a small space.
A true pledge of enduring remembrance that calls from the past.
Condition: Excellent. Be careful putting it on. The hair is unusually solid, but the pin back is small.
Size: 1 7/8" wide, 1 1/4” high, 1/2” deep.
THE HOPE OF SALVATION ( Georgian Mourning Jewelry Locket / Pendant ):
A haunting and prevalent image from the late 18th & early 19th Centuries
is that of a woman with an anchor. Dressed in idealized attire of the
Grecian style, far from pathetic, she is a female Atlas, bearing a world
of grief on her slim shoulders. In this polychrome, painted on ivory,
Georgian Locket the woman is leaning on a blue anchor and points up to
heaven. (c. 1790) In the background a ship at sea bravely sports a red
flag and red and blue banners wave from the masts. Though nautical in
theme, the loss of this loved one may have been from a number of causes.
The anchor theme always represents “Hope and Salvation”. The border
surrounding the Ivory Miniature is painted in a technique known as verre
églomisé – reverse painting on glass. In other words you take the piece
of beveled glass, turn it over and paint on the back. Once you turn it
to the front you have an image in reverse. The decorative border is
painted in gold and black enamel with a pale pink surround. The locket
opens from the bottom and contains a piece of purple silk. You could put
a photo or a lock of hair between the fabric and the back cover. The
metal appears to be rose gold plated. The large bale is mounted on a
hinge. This Antique Mourning Locket is a tangible touchstone from the
past – an age where grief and remembrance were an integral part of life.
Condition: Excellent. Over 200 years have produced some surface scratches and a dot of flaked enamel. There is a scratch on the ground at the bottom of the woman’s foot. A good sized locket that snaps closed tightly.
Size: 1 1/2” diameter, hangs 2” including the bale.
DIVINE REST ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Brooch / Pendant ):
Some of you have asked when I will sell any of the pieces from my
personal collection. This Victorian Mourning Brooch (as seen in
“Personal Collection” section) is so exquisite that to part with it has
been a very difficult decision. Being both a brooch and a pendant makes
it doubly desirable since pendants are scarcer than pins. This
magnificent Antique Mourning Pendant is rich in symbolism. (c. 1850-70)
It shows a sheaf of wheat, under a domed glass cover, perfectly rendered
in light brown hair bound together by four seed pearls. Usually a wheat
sheaf is a symbol of a divine harvest – often a gift for a bride since
it also represents fertility. In this case, however, the broken and
falling pieces denote the death of an elderly person. The iridescent
white enamel background reflects and gleams brightly over the
engine-turned guilloché. (Guilloché is machine engraved decoration on
metal over which translucent enamel is applied – a technique that
reached its zenith in the work of Peter Carl Fabergé.) The effect on
this piece gives the illusion of a sunrise or in this case a sunset. The
surface seems to glow with radiant and luscious color. The frame is
comprised of tiny seed pearls representing tears – all original and
identical in color. The setting is 14KT rose gold with the original C
clasp and a ring for a pendant bale. This is an exceptional quality
mourning piece that speaks to the heart. “Of all keepsakes, memorials,
relics – most dearly, most devotedly do I love a little lock of hair.
All else is gone to nothing.”
Condition: Excellent. A few minute pearls gone from center. A few gold wires are mixed in with the hair.
Size: 1 3/4" high, 1 1/4" wide, 1/4" 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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