With a reign spanning more than 60 years, Queen Victoria became one of the most influential figures in jewelry design. Victorian Jewelry is defined by three distinct periods: Romantic, Grand or Mourning, and Aesthetic.

The Romantic Period (1837-1861) was very sentimental, often reflecting the new love of a young couple like Victoria & Albert. Motifs such as hearts, anchors, buckles, clovers, and lovers knots were very popular during this time as well as a renewed interest in Gothic and Medieval themes.

The Grand or Mourning Period (1861-1885) started with the unexpected death of Victoria’s beloved husband in 1861, as well as the beginning of the American Civil War. Jet and onyx were widely featured in mourning jewelry and often accented with pearls, representing the tears cried for their loved ones. But this was also a time of exploration and revival. With archaeological digs bringing back to life ancient treasures, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian designs became extremely popular. The discovery of Etruscan ruins revived a metal technique that employed fine beaded granulation and wirework decoration.

With a growing middle class and women becoming an integral part of the workforce, The Aesthetic Period (1885-1901) staked its claim on the jewelry industry. The heavy jewelry of the Grand Period didn’t suit well with women’s new active lifestyle. Delicate rings, bracelets, and pins with simple geometric designs replaced the heavy and opulent jewels celebrated just decades earlier. Popular motifs included stars, crescents, bows, horseshoes, and crowned hearts that are just as popular today as they were 120 years ago!