Jewelry From an Era: Victorian

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
Engraved by W.Holl and published in
The Queens of England encyclopedia, United Kingdom, 1890

It’s a historical fact that Queen Victoria loved jewelry. The so-called “Victorian Era,” named after the queen is commonly considered to be the period between 1837-1901. This was an era of growth and strength, shaped by politics and by the industrial revolution. The power and innovation in the air reflected in the jewelry of the day in the most artistic way.

Queen Victoria inspired and requested much jewelry, even designing some pieces herself. This interest propelled the market into the forefront of art forms at the time. Pieces like cameos became a staple, beautifully carved from shell, carnelian, agate and even lava rocks.

Victorian Era Shell Cameo Pin with Cultured Pearls at Calhoun Jewelers
Turquoise Cameo Pendant at Gleim Jewelers

Charm bracelets rose in popularity during this time, likely from Queen Victoria’s own bracelet comprised of charms she had specifically commissioned to give as gifts to loved ones.

As the world began learning better and faster ways to produce items, chains and settings were easily crafted, sometimes mass-produced, which made it more affordable for anyone to own a piece of jewelry. Victorian jewelry had intricate or unusual chains attached to the items, as metalworking was boosted during the era. Click the images below to see some “charming” designs from AGS members.

Lucky Life Charm Collection bracelet by Gumuchian
Charm Bracelet with Star by Stuller, Inc
Diamond Charm Bar Pendant Necklace by Dilamani

When Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband died, the death shook the Queen and the world. For the rest of her life, Victoria chose to wear mourning clothes of black, and her jewelry began to reflect the emotional time.

The world followed her trend and soon Victorian jewelry became heavier and darker. Materials like jet, a fossilized wood colored pitch black, became the most popular item to include in jewelry.

Carved Jet Wing Pendant by King Baby

The entire era made jewelry into something more than simple decoration. It taught us to treasure these objects as tangible memories; charms to remember, cameos to capture time itself, designs to tug your senses. Queen Victoria loved jewelry, not only for its beauty but for its legacy as well.

Discover more beautiful pieces from your favorite era by finding an AGS jeweler near you!

Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) who is the Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin also writes for Panowicz Jewelers’ blog.