Suffragist Jewelry

The suffragettes (from suffrage: the right to vote) were members of the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union), a militant group of British women fighting for women's right to vote. It was a split of the NUWSS (National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies). The colors of the WSPU were purple, green and white. These colors were described as follows by Emmeline, Barones Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954) "Purple as everyone knows is the royal color. It stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity...white stands for purity in private and public is the color of hope and the emblem of spring." in 1908. Their slogan was Votes for Women.

Pendant in the Suffragette colors, circa 1910
(amethyst, demantoid garnets, pearls)

The three colors - purple, white and green - of the movement were used on banners by the women in public demonstrations and sometimes jewelry was manufactured with stones in these colors, worn by women to express their sympathy to the cause. Sometimes the purple is interpreted as violet, giving the opportunity to create the GWV abbreviation, meaning Give Women the Vote. This slogan is however different from the WSPU slogan and the color violet is not the same as purple and there are, convincing, hints that this GWV abbreviation is a marketing tool which evolved in the early 2000's. Jewelry set with the WSPU colors as [[[amethyst]], demantoid and moonstone were not uncommon during the Eduardian and Art Nouveau eras and not all of them were meant to express loyalty towards the movement. The few that are created for this specific goal, as some Arts & Crafts jewelry by Amy Sandheim are highly collectible. It is therefore very tempting to designate all jewelry from the era in these colors as suffragette jewelry. Nevertheless if a jewelry piece is really created as a suffragette jewel or not, the story is one that appeals to people due to some romance that surrounds this movement. The GWV abbreviation, although probably not correct, aids in this mystic.

Sources consulted