This was an era of industrial revolution and commercial expansion and Britain was at the epicenter of it. The icon and figurehead of Britain’s ascendance in the world was the young queen, Victoria. Together with her husband, Prince Albert, their court set the trends for the expanding nouveau-rich middle class, who were eager to flaunt their wealth. This early part of the Victorian era is referred to as the Romantic Period.
Jewellery pieces for the head were extremely popular, from hair pins and ornate clips to grand tiaras. Elaborate brooches, scarf pins and matching bracelets are also defining items of this period. Diamonds were available, but still rare compared to precious gemstones such as emeralds and sapphires, and semi-precious stones such as garnet and topaz. Designs often featured animals and flowers as well as carved hands gently holding onto gemstones.
With the death of Prince Albert in 1861, the trends shifted to more sombre and conservative styles, in part due to Queen Victoria’s personal mourning. Ornate lockets and carved portrait pendants are the defining jewellery pieces in what became known as the Grand Period in Victoria’s reign. This was also a time of exploration and heroes of archeology and so we see design influence from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Star shapes become a popular style focus as well as insects; bees, beetles, dragonflies and butterflies.
As the 19th Century closed, an influx of exotic art and exquisitely detailed handcrafts from the Far East inspired a resurgence of artisan jewellery in Europe. In England this was called the Arts and Crafts movement, which focused on ‘one of a kind’ bespoke pieces. Free flowing lines were a hallmark of what became known as Art Nouveau. This included the female form being incorporated into jewellery design. This was stark contrast to rigid patterns ushered in by mass produced jewellery, which had prevailed in the romantic and grand periods of the Victorian Era.
Antique jewellery (which is usually defined as at least 100 years old) is typically comprised of Victorian styles. For keen collectors only the authentic originals will do, however there has been an increasing interest to create modern bespoke designed jewellery inspired by the Victorian style. Butterflies and dragonflies remain popular motifs for customised jewellery, particularly earring and pendant sets. Haywards of Hong Kong specialise in bespoke jewellery design and are experienced in working the Victorian style into newly created pieces. For more information on the Haywards bespoke process visit: http://haywards.com.hk/design-process/ or email us at email@example.com to custom design your piece from start to finish.