Victorian Jewelry – Grand Period

Victorian BLog Image
Victorian Blog Image

The Grand Period – 1860-1885

Changes in fashion, the excavation of ancient Egyptian treasures, and the death of Prince Albert influenced jewelry styles during this period.

Victorian Blog ImageInfluences/Advancements

Women are entering the workforce, and the suffragette movement begins. Diamonds are discovered in South Africa, opals in Australia, and silver in Nevada. With the death of Prince Albert, mourning jewelry is prevalent as the country mourns with the Queen. Excavations in Italy launched a trend of Etruscan Revival jewelry, while the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 made it easier for Europe and Asia to trade with one another and it also sparked an interest in Egyptian Revival jewelry.

Notable Jewelers

Though not always credited for their work, some of the important jewelers during the era were: Boucheron, Mellerio, Froment-Meurice, Castellani, Fontenay, Giuliano, and Brogden.


Victorian Blog Image.


Discoveries of gold in California provided the world with a magnificent supply of the precious metal. Archeological Revival styles were rendered with granulation and wirework.

Victorian Blog Image


The Comstock Lode Nevada discovery provided an abundance of silver to the world’s jewelers.

Victorian Blog Image

Shakudo & Shibuichi

The opening of trade with Japan introduced Western jewelers to mixed metal techniques devised by Japanese sword makers.


Opals once thought to bring bad luck, were revived in popularity by Queen Victoria.  French exposition to China brought jade introduced Jade to the West, and Napoleon III’s Empress Eugenie’s love of emeralds caught on in France. Diamonds were rose and old mine cuts.

Victorian Blog Image

Onyx & Jet

Onyx and jet were widely used, mostly in mourning jewelry.

Victorian Blog Image


Amethyst was a half-mourning gem, acceptable for wear after the initial mourning period ended.

Victorian Blog Image

Hardstone Cameos

Napoleon III and Eugenie breathed life back into the cameo industry, as Napoleon was a passionate collector.

Victorian Garnet Carbuncle and Diamond Necklace.


Cabochon garnets (also known as carbuncles), and other gem cabochons–including those embedded with gems–were popular.

Victorian Etruscan Revival Ball Form Earrings with Granulation and Wirework Decoration.
Victorian Etruscan Revival Ball Form Earrings with Granulation and Wirework Decoration.


Granulation and filigree were used to add texture and depth. Engraving and chasing continued to be used and there were new treatments such as blooming which created a soft matte sheen on metal surfaces. Technology (and a price drop) made aluminum a more inviting metal with low prices and easy workability. It was used widely in costume jewelry and household goods. 

Styles & Motifs

The heavens and nature as well as whimsical subjects were favorite motifs. ‘

Look for: crescent moons, stars, and insects of all sorts were set with diamonds, colored stones, and pearls. The discovery of silver in Virginia City, NV lowered the cost and bigger, bolder pieces were made. Victorian whimsy was on display with reverse crystal intaglios painted with horses and other animals, including their pets! The ever-classic locket was a sentimental favorite as were the exquisite and intricately fashioned micromosaic pieces. 

Victorian Diamond Starburst Pendant.
Victorian Diamond Starburst Pendant.
Antique Reverse Crystal Intaglio Brooch c.1890.
Antique Reverse Crystal Intaglio Brooch c.1890.
Victorian Blog Image
Victorian Diamond and Pearl Bee Brooch.
Victorian Onyx and Seed Pearl Mourning Earrings.
Victorian Onyx and Seed Pearl Mourning Earrings.
Victorian Onyx & Gold Mourning Necklace.
Victorian Onyx & Gold Mourning Necklace.

The expression of personal grief through jewelry—wearing dark-colored jewelry and pieces that memorialized the dead which included hair or photos–extended to national grief after the death of the Queen’s mother and Prince Albert in 1861. Mourning jewelry was donned by most to show solidarity with the grieving monarch and to acknowledge the country’s loss.

Look for: somber, yet beautiful, jewelry fabricated in dark materials such as onyx, jet, vulcanite, French jet (glass), accented with seed pearls, and often featuring human hair.

Shop at Lang

  • Victorian Jet Dangle Earrings

    Victorian Jet Dangle Earrings

    Those Victorians were proto-Goth hipsters! As can readily be attested by these über-cool 'jet black' ear drops artfully hand carved in ... wait for it ...…

  • Victorian Onyx Elegant Cameo Brooch

    Victorian Onyx Elegant Cameo Brooch

    An alabaster skinned Victorian beauty is dramatically captured in profile against a circular glossy jet black background in this consummate Victorian cameo hard…

  • Victorian Etruscan Revival Earrings

    Victorian Etruscan Revival Earrings

    Original Victorian ear drops don't come any cooler or crisper than these chic Etruscan Revival-style stunners, expertly hand fabricated, and intricately ornamen…

Close Menu