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:


A RARE MASTERPIECE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): What a work of art! The Victorian jeweler who designed this beautiful brooch (c 1850-70) was indeed an artist. In the center is a glass covered compartment holding woven hair. In the photo it probably appears grayish brown, but if you look at it with a loop it is actually half golden and half silver colored hair. It reminds me of the hip length hair of my maternal grandmother both of which I adored. The hair is surrounded by 41 seed pearls and they, in turn, are framed by 22 faceted jet stones. They are all set in a 15 KT gold backing. On the back are engraved the initials “AML”. There are three caged dangles of open work hair – all in rarely found perfect condition. The two outer ones are white hair and the center one dark brown hair. It has its original long stemmed pin with a replacement safety clasp. From my personal collection to yours – a stunning example of jewelry as art!

Condition: Excellent. The engraved initials are upside down. Though not visible from the front view due to white cement, one pearl is missing at the 4:00 position. The price reflects this tiny loss.
Size: Oval 1 3/8” wide, 1 1/8” high, 3/8” deep. Including dangles 2” high.



TAKE MY HEART ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Sepia Painting Pendant ): This Georgian Pendant is special not only because it is over 200 years old (c.1790-1810), but also because it memorializes death so movingly. The scene painted on a navette shaped chip depicts a grief stricken woman in classical dress kneeling beside a plinth with the initials “TAD” engraved on it. She is holding a broken heart in her hand ready to pass it into the flames at the top of the memorial. Above her head is a bird, probably a dove, carrying a laurel wreath in its beak. Beneath the bird you can see a flock of six birds flying toward the scene. Portions of the ground and tree branches are painted with dissolved hair. The image is clear and crisp. This delicate 14 KT rose gold pendant has a double rim of engraved scallops – one of the gold rims is under the glass cover, the other forms the outside frame. Far back in its long history this captivating pin was cleverly converted to to a pendant by attaching a matching rose gold bale at the top.

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 exquisite loving memory of the past forward in time.

Condition: Excellent. (Chain not included.) There are the usual fine surface scratches from age and loving wear, not visible to the naked eye.
Size: 1 1/2” high, 3/4” wide, 1/8” deep.



FLAMES OF LOVE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Gold Photo Locket / Pendant ): Many collectors want their antiques to look like new. Well, this 15 KT Gold “IN MEMORY OF” photo locket (c 1880) does just that. The front is decorated with a black enamel peacock tail design holding the words “In Memory Of” with crossed flaming torches below indicating the flames of love still burn for someone who died before their time. The background is hand engraved with a textured pattern that sparkles. The back of the locket is also hand engraved with a gorgeous feather and flower pattern providing a shimmering background. The hinge and clasp work perfectly. Inside are two photo compartments – one empty and one with an old photo of a relatively young woman. The celluloid cover is missing over the photo, present over the empty side. The gold bale will hold any matching gold chain. Lockets are highly desirable. An unusual one like this is a real treasure!

Condition: Excellent. (Chain not included.) One celluloid cover missing.
Size: Locket 1 1/4” high, 1” wide, 1/4” deep. Total length with bale 1 1/2”.



MACABRE ALERT! (Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Lava Skull Amulet ): Macabre alert” was the call my antique shopping buddy and I would use when one of us came upon a piece of mourning jewelry in the memento mori (“remember we all must die”)category – a favorite of ours. Here in San Antonio memento mori art is commonly associated with the Mexican festival Day of the Dead. This Italian hand carved gray lava skull (c early 1800's) is undoubtedly an Antique Amulet or Talisman worn as a charm to ward off evil. It has remarkable detail for such a small skull – note the teeth. It is firmly held by a wire through it with an attached ring at the top. It can be worn but I would recommend it be worn alone on a chain around your neck since lava is not the sturdiest of materials. It is remarkable that it has remained in such good condition for 200 years. Someone must have treasured it. A rare addition for any Mourning Jewelry aficionado.

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



ESPERANCE ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Painted Miniature Locket / Pendant ): I have had other sepia and polychrome miniature paintings of Hope, but never one in such a gorgeous large setting. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, when Britannia ruled the waves, thousands of women – wives and sweethearts of common seamen to admirals – had the constant fear that their man may not come home. This figure of a woman clothed in a Grecian gown, leaning on an anchor and gazing out at ships at sea became their symbol of Hope or Esperanze (Middle English and Old French for “Hope”) that their beloved would return safely. The large locket setting for this polychrome miniature painted on a wafer (c 1820-30) has a front and back covered by slightly domed glass. The underside of the glass front is painted in white with gold leaf wreaths at the top and bottom and a black frame around the picture containing gold leaf edging, three stars and the word “ESPERANCE”. The glass back covers the dark brown woven hair of her loved one. It is a locket with a hinge at the top but I would not advise opening it. The contents may shift of even fall out. The glass covers are set in a 14 KT gold rim with a large bale attached to the hinge. Another sample from my private collection. I HOPE you don't miss out on this eye-catching beauty!

Condition: Excellent. (Chain not included.) Small chip in underside of glass on back at 11:00 – of no consequence.
Size: Pendant 2 3/4” high, 2 1/4” wide, 3/8” deep. Total length with bale 3 3/8”.



CARVED CORAL BEAUTY ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Coral & Hair Gold Brooch Reset to Ring ): I was really thrilled to find this beautiful Georgian Carved Coral and Woven Hair Brooch (1828) because it was one I could safely wear. However, my preference for larger pieces left it mainly in my drawer. Frustrated, my jeweler and I came up with the idea of converting it to a ring, thus giving my many years of the pleasure of wearing it – and drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from my friends. The brooch contains eight pieces of hand carved coral with the small glass covered compartment of golden woven hair in a decorative 15 KT gold setting. On the back you can still see the engraved inscription: “LR”, Died 16 July, 1828”. My jeweler added the 14 KT gold ring setting featuring the beautiful open work around the sides that raises the coral up. I know the next owner will take great pleasure in continuing to showcase “LR's” marvelous memento!

Condition: Excellent. Georgian Brooch reset as ring. Ring box included.
Size: Front 1 1/4” high, 1” wide, 3/8” deep. Ring size 6 1/2. Can be sized.



JET DIAMONDS ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Whitby Jet Locket / Pendant ): This beautiful Whitby Jet Locket, though over 125 years old (c 1870-80), looks quite modern in its design. It has been beautifully and artfully carved and polished so that both the domed front and back of the locket and the jet bale are covered with triangles or diamond shapes. Both hinge and clasp work well. When opened there are two empty compartments with their celluloid covers still in place. You could easily insert photos or a lock of hair as a memento of a loved one – living or deceased. The bale is attached on a metal ring and is large enough to hold the silver chain of your choice. It makes a very handsome piece of jewelry. It has become very difficult to find Jet of this quality.

Condition: Excellent. (Chain not included.) Some of the black paint is worn from the metal ring.
Size: Locket 1 5/8” high, 1 1/4” wide, 5/8” deep. Total length with bale 2 5/8”.



ANGEL OF GRIEF ( Resin Mourning Angel Statuette ): This beautifully molded Angel of Grief draped over a tombstone in inspired by the 1894 original located in a Protestant cemetery in Rome. It was made be the American poet and sculptor, William Wetmore Story, in homage to his beloved wife, Emelyn. Both are now buried under it. The Angel of Grief, has been replicated near the Stanford Mausoleum at Stanford University. One of Story's other famous works, Cleopatra, (1858) was described and admired in Nathaniel Hawthorne's romance, The Marble Faun, and is on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. From the angel's dainty fingers to the delicate wings to the tendrils of hair at the nape of her neck down to the folds of her gown – it is a work of art. The raised lettering is a reminder to celebrate life:

The bud was spread
To show the rose.
Our Saviour smiled
The bud was closed.

We found it makes a lovely small monument to a beloved pet who has passed on (see photo). It could also be used similarly for any loved one or used as a display piece with you Mourning Collection.

Condition: Excellent. Felt cover on bottom.
Size: 7 1/2” high, 7 1/2” long, 3 1/2” wide.



GEORGIAN JEWEL ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Garnet and Hair Brooch / Pin ): What a lovely and unusual brooch! The use of faceted, foil backed garnets to frame an oval compartment containing light brown woven hair may indicate this is a sentimental brooch for a living loved one – though garnets were used in the late mourning period. Whether mourning or sentimental, this Georgian Brooch has a cheerful appearance and is in incredibly good condition for its close to 200 year age. (c. 1820) Both hair and garnets are set in 9KT rose gold with the original elongated pin stem and C clasp. The brooch is slightly curved adding to its appeal. The glass enclosed hair makes it quite safe to wear. Don't pass up this affordable antique beauty!

Condition: Excellent. All original.
Size: 1 1/8” wide (not including pin stem), 3/4” high, 3/8” deep.



RARE HOPE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Art Framed Bone Figure ): I mainly collect, buy and sell Mourning Jewelry but this lovely carved Antique Bone figure of “Hope” caught my fancy. The Bible in 1st Corinthians 13:13 says “And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” The age old symbols for these virtues are a cross for “Faith”, an anchor for “Hope” and a heart for “Charity” or “Love”. I found this beautifully carved figure of “Hope” both lovely and moving. Notice her flowing cape and tiny toes. (c. 1860-80) Her hands are in the position of prayer. She is placed on deep red velvet over a metal sheathed cardboard disc fit into a gold metal sheathed oval wood frame. The inner lining of the frame is decoratively chased. The figure is safely placed under a dome of Celluloid. I'm sure there was once a cover over the back, and a large loop hanger, but someone has put in two small screws and a red string to hang it by. Loving large jewelry, I would probably add a wire and ring and wear it as a pendant. However you chose to display her, she would make a wonderful and unusual addition to any Victorian or Mourning collection.

Condition: Excellent. There is some wear to the gold metal frame which makes it look like antique gold. The backing is off, but could easily be replaced. The edges of the velvet are worn.
Size: Frame 4” high, 3 1/2” wide. Figure 2” high, 1 1/4” wide.



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.



RARE OPAL INSET ( Victorian Antique Mourning Jewelry Brooch / Pin ): It is a pleasure to offer you this lovely mourning/sentimental Victorian brooch featuring a smooth chalcedony background stone with a foiled back central opal stone. (c. 1870-80) Chalcedony is a family of minerals that are milky white to bluish in color. It gives a soft radiance around the gold letters “IN MEMORY OF” on the white enamel band. White enamel indicates it is memorializes either a young, unmarried woman or an elderly woman. The central opal, with its shimmering light blue color that looks different from every angle, goes beautifully with the chalcedony. The brooch is set in a scalloped gold colored metal setting. I don't know when the metal is since it appears parts of it were painted with antique gold paint. It has its original C clasp closure on the back. Sweetly feminine, this dainty Antique Mourning Brooch exhibits a refined timeless appeal that makes it as wearable today as it was a century and a half ago.

Condition: Good. There is wear to the white enamel and the gold setting has been painted.
Size: 1 3/4” wide, 1 3/8” 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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