Victorian Jewelry – Aesthetic Period

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Victorian Blog Image

The Aesthetic Period  – 1885 – 1901

Throwing off old conventions, jewelry artists moved towards a more refined taste, reflected in artisanal rather than mass-produced creations. 

Influences and Advancements

Electricity, Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau Movements promoted original creations instead of imitations, Gibson Girls, Suffragist Movement.


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Lighter, airier jewelry designs took advantage of the availability of lower-karat gold. 

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Silver-Topped Gold

Still a popular option for diamond jewelry requiring a white metal setting. The gold layer protected skin from silver tarnish.

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Advancements in jewelry manufacturing made platinum available to jewelers. Early examples were small accents on gold.

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Rolled Gold

Sheets of rolled gold plate were stamped  into mass-produced jewelry items. This new form of costume jewelry was available at a lower price to a wider range of consumers.


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Cabochon Gems

For a softly curved effect, gems were frequently cut en cabochon (without facets). Designers were interested in stones for their beauty not their intrinsic value.

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An influx of opals from Australia and the backing by Queen Victoria made them a fashion choice of the era.

Demantoid Garnet Snake Brooch, c.1890.

Demantoid Garnet

Discovered by accident in 1853 in Russia, these bright green garnets soon created “demantoid fever.”

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Queen Victoria’s love of turquoise kept this gem at the “top of the charts” throughout the era.

Victorian Blog ImageTechniques/Innovations

In the late 1880s, advancements in jewelry manufacturing made platinum a viable metal for jewelry and it became a favorite for diamond mountings.


Look for: Small studs were in vogue (for new upswept hairstyles a la the Gibson Girl). Diamond brooches sparkled in the hair and long diamond earrings on the ears at fancy evening events. Stylish longchains dangled lorgnettes (glasses) and watches. On the other end of the accessory spectrum, novelty jewels–bejeweled lizards, frogs, owls, and chickens to name a few–were all the rage. Small bar pins and delicate pendants (shamrocks, hearts, knots) were lovely and easy to wear. Horseshoes, crescent moons, crowns, bows, knots owls, and hearts were also popular motifs.

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Multicolor Gold Applique on a Silver Pendant..
Victorian Diamond Crescent Brooch. Circa 1895.
Victorian Diamond Crescent Brooch. Circa 1895.
Castellani Gold & Enamel Bangle Bracelet.
Castellani Gold & Enamel Bangle Bracelet.

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