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 DEAR REMAINS OF MOTHER ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Sepia & Hair Pendant / Pin ): This spectacular English Georgian mourning pendant/pin is almost beyond description in the quality of the workmanship, detailing beauty, symbolism and hair work. (c. 1790-1830) A story of sadness is evident in this touching sepia on porcelain pendant. The scene depicts a grief stricken woman in classical dress seated next to a tomb with an urn. An exquisite Weeping Willow Tree hangs gently over the mournful scene. The image is unusually crisp and clear. The sides of the 14 KT rose gold oval pendant are engraved with a chain link motif. On the reverse side you will see gray hair beautifully woven. The center holds a rose gold framed inset which reads : “The Dear Remains off the Best and most Beloved of Mothers.” I have added a Victorian Watch Pin of rose gold and black enamel to the pendant ring so this memorial can be worn as a pin as well as a pendant. This is another personal piece from my 45 years of collecting Mourning Jewelry. It is a tangible touchstone from the past – an age where grief and remembrances were an integral part of life.

Condition: Excellent. Some fine surface scratches to the glass, common on pieces that were worn.
Size: Oval is 2” long, 1 1/2” wide, 1/8” deep. Watch pin is 5/8” high, 1 1/2” wide. Total length for both pieces is 3 1/2”.



THE ROSE AND THE DOVE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Memorial Painting Pendant ): This painted Victorian Mourning Picture/Pendant is so exquisite that to part with it has been a very difficult decision. Being both a piece of memorial art and a pendant makes it doubly desirable. (c. 1860-80) Possibly originally inset into a box or used as a portable memorial, this romantic image is rich in symbolism. At the center the plinth features an urn with an eternal flame burning at its top. Notice the clock at the center of the plinth – the inevitable passage of time – symbolizes the shortness of life. Two kissing doves who seem to be parting – on the right the white male dove is bright but his female companion appears to be fading in color and clarity as she departs. This represents the soul. The darkening blue sky is clouded and the two green trees are leaning, no longer upright. Yet there are abundant pink roses, romantic but they are a symbol of love and death, a common motif in mourning paintings. There is such an air of sweetness in this rare mourning portrait of parting. It is painted on slate. The frame is rose gold and I have had three fully dimensional roses with leaves added to the top so that they could conceal a pendant loop. Perhaps no collector will snap this up and I won't have to part with it! “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 2 1/2” in diameter, 1/8” deep. Roses are 1 1/2” long, 1/4” deep.



DAINTY AND DELICATE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Ring ): I seldom see mourning rings that are in excellent condition, but this one is so perfect that I had to share it with you. Tokens of hair are intimate and personal. “If I should from this world depart / You could still remember me.” This lovely quality English Mourning Ring is beautifully made with exquisite ornate black vitreous enamel decoration on both the ring shoulders and encircling the hair memento at the center. This dainty 15 KT gold ring is petite and discrete. The rare blond woven hair is set under a glass cover. The inside of the band is hallmarked “H & S” (probably a maker's mark) and “15 CT”. My guess, based on its size, is that this token is early Victorian (c. 1830-40). Ring size is 7. Quite elaborate in design, this little beauty has been lovingly worn. It is a tangible touchstone from the past – an age when grief and remembrances were an integral part of life. A sweet ring for a lady who prefers dainty and delicate jewelry or a trophy awaiting some lucky collector.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Ring is size 7. Oval hair at center is 1/2” high, 3/8” wide. Band at center back is 1/8” 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.



IN MEMORY OF ( Antique Victorian Jewelry Mourning Ring ): A very simple, yet meaningful, Victorian Mourning Ring (c. 1860-80). The message “In Memory Of” is rendered in 18 KT gold accented by black enamel. Ring size is 6 ½. The outer edges are raised to protect the more fragile enamel message and there is decorative engraving on both the outer bands as well as between the words contained in the message. Inside of the band is a full set of English hallmarks. This ring was tenderly worn by a grieving Victorian woman and is inscribed “Meyrick, Alice, & May”. I like this poem used to describe Victorian acceptance of death:

Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the northwind's breath,
And stars to set – but all,
Thou hast all seasons for their own, O' Death.

This mourning ring is a pledge of enduring remembrance that you might decide to wear without fear of damage. Wear it or simply admire it as part of your own unique Mourning Jewelry Collection.

Condition: Excellent. There are fine scratches on the inside of the band
.Size: Ring size is 6 1/2. Band is 3/8” wide all around.



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.



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”.



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.



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.



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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