Victorian Mourning Jewelry

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Maureen DeLorme's book, Mourning Art & Jewelry, published April, 2004. This stunning book is the only complete work on Mourning customs and jewelry. Many pieces from my personal collection are featured. (See Reference Books under "Links" for more information.)
Item: Description: Victorian Mourning  Jewelry Victorian Mourning Jewelry Victorian  Price:


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN ( Antique Victorian Postmortem Portrait Miniature ): Another Angel Gets Her Wings. Is this not a heartbreaking portrait miniature of this beautiful young girl? I wish I could tell you it is a sentimental painting of a living child but it contains all the characteristics of a deceased child – white dress, blue sky and white clouds indicating she is already in Heaven. The painting, by a miniaturist signing his name as “Autrey”, is exquisite. The doll-like face surrounded by red curls with brown eyes gazing directly at you no matter from which angle you view her. I can't look at her without getting tears in my eyes. The painting is set in a 15 KT gold frame decorated with engraving around the edge with a ring at the top from which to hang it. It has a glass cover. You can see areas on the back of the frame probably caused by rubbing against a wall. I wouldn't be surprised if her mother had a carrying case as well so she could always have her child with her when she went on trips. Death was a common part of Victorian life so this would not have been thought to be morbid as it might today. She remained a prominent part of her family – Gone But Not Forgotten.

Condition: Excellent. Some areas on back where gold is worn through.
Size: Frame not including bale 3 1/2” high, 2 3/4” wide, 1/4” deep. Total height with bale 4 1/4”.



CRÈME de la CRÈME GEORGIAN PENDANT ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Pendant ): This gorgeous oval Georgian Pendant (c. 1790) is so beautiful on either side that I don't know which to call the front. One side has a sepia painting of a grieving woman, under a weeping willow tree, placing flowers on her husband's tomb. The sepia is so crisp and bright that it looks newly painted. The only other colors are the red blossoms and green leaves of the flowers she holds – which also look like new. The grass is made of the mulched hair of her loved one. It is framed in a 9 KT decorated gold frame. The other side is framed by a rim of tiny seed pearls, a belt made of tightly woven brown hair with a seed pearl buckle at the bottom and with an inner decorated gold edging. Inside of this is a white chip with a tiny 3 dimensional Cornucopia in the center. What masterful workmanship! The Cornucopia is framed in decorated gold surrounded by triangular peaks made up of very fine painted sepia lines. Both sides are covered by domed glass. I have added a new removable gold bale to the ring at the top. I hope one of you will treasure this pendant as I have.

Condition: Excellent. The only defects I see are some loss of areas of the fine sepia lines around the Cornucopia. Chain not included.
Size: Pendant 1 1/2” high, 1”wide, 3/8” deep. Total height including bale 2”.



MON AMOUR et AMITIE ( Antique Georgian French Sentimental Sepia Dog and Portrait Miniature Pendant ): As one who has loved six pug dogs over the last 50 years I am very moved by this young Frenchman's sentiments. This has been one of my most beloved pieces (c. 1810-20). One side has a beautifully painted portrait miniature of a handsome young Frenchman dressed in his finest. The other side a sentimental sepia painting of his King Charles Spaniel. The dog sits on a patch of grass surrounded by trees. Above the dog are the entwined initials “LD” and across the top of the shield the words “amour” and “amitie” - “love” and “friendship”. All of these, including the shield shaped line around it, are made up mostly of mulched and palette-worked hair – undoubtedly clipped from his dog. The 9 KT gold shield frame is hung from a chain with a modern bale that opens at the top. A gold drop dangles from the bottom. I hope this beauty finds a new home with another lover of dogs.

Condition: Excellent. Neck chain not included.
Size: Shield shaped frame 2 1/8” high, 2” wide, 1/8” deep. Total height bale to drop 4 1/8”.



LADY ANN BROOCH ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch ): This is not just an unusually large and beautiful Georgian memento of “Lady Ann” but of “The Right Honorable Lady Ann”. I wasn't sure which Georgian women were allowed to bear this title. My research tells me it is not a title obtained through marriage but rather from her parentage. Her father had to have been an Earl, Marquess or Duke – the three highest titles of English nobility. At the time Lady Ann died in 1818 there were only around 125 English women bearing this title. I picture her as an elegant lady with long blond hair when she died at the all too young age of 43. Her husband or some other family member memorialized her with this large brooch containing her woven golden locks in a setting framed by 32 faceted onyx stones and black enamel bearing the gold printing: “The Right Honorable Lady Ann Hudson – Died 2 April 1818 – Aged 43 Years”. The hair has a glass cover and the brooch is set in 14 KT gold with the back decorated in swirls. It has the original C clasp closure. Because of the weight of this brooch – and the excellent condition – my guess is that is was mainly displayed in some special place rather than worn. I have been thrilled to have played a small role in carrying forward this lovely Lady Ann memento. I felt that the 200 year anniversary of her passing was the appropriate time to pass her on to someone who will love and honor her as I have.

Condition: Excellent. Actually perfect.
Size: 3” wide, 2 5/8” high, 1/4” deep.



SIR HENRY RING ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Hair Ring ): Actually I don't know if Henry was a “Sir” or not. I wanted to place this Georgian Ring memorializing Henry next to Lady Ann's brooch since they are so similar in style and I felt he should have a title as well. This ring has blond woven hair under a glass front surrounded by a band of black enamel with the gold printing: “Henry Coulthurst – OB 11 Sep 1788 – AE 70”. Think of it – 230 years old! And in perfect condition. It is set in 15 KT gold with a plain gold band so it can be sized. The ring size is 6 1/4. Google found a Henry Coulthurst born in Gargrave, a small town in northern England, in 1719. That is pretty close, records being such as they were. Someone thought enough of Henry to make a lovely and lasting ring to remember him by. He would be pleased if another lover of Mourning Jewelry would carry his name and this memento of him forward.

Condition: Excellent.S
ize: Face is 1” high, 5/8” wide, 3/16” deep. Band tapers to 1/16” in back. The ring size is 6 1/4.



A DEAR MOTHER'S MEMORIAL ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Sepia Painting and Hair Bracelet ): Victorian bracelets made of hair are difficult to find, ones in good condition even more so and ones that have the engraved history on them are downright rare. This bracelet is made up of seven strands of woven brown hair. There is a gold band decorated with floral engraving around all seven strands in back, a similar gold band around the central three strands on the left side and two bands that are heart shaped on both sides around the two upper and the two lower strands on the right. The tongue-in-groove clasp contains a sepia painting of an angel taking a young woman up to Heaven. The two hearts on the inside tell the story in tiny engraved script: “Amelia Annie Smith – her Mothers hair who died Augst 18th 1850 At 39.” and “Sarah Jane Smith – her Mothers hair who died Augst 18th 1850 At 39.” The tiny seed pearls surrounding the painting of their mother going to Heaven represent their tears. The hair is undoubtedly that of their mother. It is possible she died in the childbirth of twins. The father most likely had the bracelet made so the girls would always have this lovely memento of their mother. Oh, dear! There go my tears again.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Sepia painting 1 3/8” high, 3/4” wide, 1/8” deep. Bracelet 7 1/8” long, around 1” wide.



JET BLACK NECKLACE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Whitby Jet Necklace ): Jet is fossilized driftwood which is very light weight and can be carved and polished. The finest Jet was found around Whitby, England. Due to Queen Victoria's long period of mourning – from Prince Albert's death in 1861 until her death in 1901 – Mourning Jewelry peaked in popularity during the Victorian era as did the use of Jet. Pins and Pendants were the most common which is why this lovely Jet Necklace (c. 1870-80) has remained in my personal collection until now. It consists of nine beads which are flat on the back with a pyramid shaped decoration on the front. The edge of each is decorated with a Greek key pattern. Looking closely you can see that none of the decorations are exactly perfect as they would be if molded instead of carved. The front five beads are linked by black cord with a decorated dangle hanging from the central one. The back three beads are held together with flat Jet links. How could that be if they were carved you might ask. Examination shows fine lines where they were split apart and then glued back together after linking them. The closure is a wire hook fitting through a hole in the end of a Jet bead. You can see in our photo how beautiful this looks when worn. A rare addition for any collection.

Condition: Excellent. Very light weight.
Size: Total length 20”. Bead size tapers from 1 1/2” long in front to 1” long in back. Dangle is 2” long, 1 1/4” wide, 3/16” deep.



RING OF PEARLS ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Hair and Pearls Ring ): The small glass covered compartment on the face of this ring contains the woven gray hair of an English gentleman – not of the nobility but more like an English country squire. He obviously was loved at the time of his death at age 89 since someone had this lovely ring made as a memento of his life. Twenty seed pearls surround his hair, ten medium sized and ten very tiny. The tapered sides of the 15 KT gold ring are beautifully decorated. Engraved inside is the following: “Jn. Milner, Esq. Ob. 15 Mar. 1816 At 89”. In the USA “Esq.” following a name generally means he is an attorney. Historically in England it referred to a member of society just below a knight – the lowest rank among the titled nobility. I'm sure Mr. Milner would be proud if one of you would become the owner of his 202 year old beautiful memento.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Face is 5/8” high, 1/2” wide, 1/8” deep. Band tapers to 1/8” in back. The ring size is 9.



FOR ETERNITY ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Snake Pin / Brooch ): Have I ever posted Victorian Jewelry without at least one snake? Rarely. I love snake-themed jewelry because of what it meant to Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Albert designed a snake ring for his proposal to Victoria because it symbolized love, wisdom and eternity. This coiled snake pin made from table-worked brown hair is one of my finest. Not only is it in almost perfect condition but the gold of the head and tail are beautifully engraved (see close-up photos). As a memento of a loved one the head appropriately has small cabochon garnet eyes, a large and a small garnet on its head as well as a large garnet dangle. Garnets were commonly used in Mourning Jewelry – partly because they could be dark colored and among other things they were thought to ward off melancholy and promote good health. It has its original C clasp closure. May this snake provide you with love and wisdom and shield you from melancholy.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 2” wide, 1 3/4” high including garnet dangle and 5/8” deep.



ELEGANT EARRINGS ( Antique Victorian Sentimental Hair Jewelry Earrings ): I have sold a number of Earrings containing hair over the years but none as elegant and sophisticated as these – which is why they have been in my personal collection until now. The shepherd's hook ear wires are fronted by black enamel discs set in gold. Dangling from them are elongated tear drop shaped 9 KT gold and black enamel settings containing glass covered brown hair folds or pleats. When examined by a loop they are made up of very tiny tightly packed curls of hair. When looked at by the naked eye they have the appearance of Fortuny pleated silk. Really stunning! These could easily be worn today for any fancy night out. The dangles are decorated at the tops and bottoms by decorative gold curly-cues. The beveled glass hair covers are surrounded by decorative gold rims. Live it up!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Total length 3 1/4”. Discs 3/8” in diameter. Dangles 2 3/8” long, 1/2” wide, 3/16” deep.



STUNNING HAIRPIN ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Pin /Brooch ): This is a beautiful example of table-work hair with two intertwining brown loops making up the body, each loop ending in gold caps. It is topped with a gold capped table-work “acorn” and four gold blossoms. Two gold capped “acorns” dangle from the lowest blossom. It is backed by the original C clasp closure. I don't know if this is a memento of a deceased loved one or a sentimental reminder of a living loved one. Either way it is lovely to look at and in lovely condition. A great addition to any collection.

Condition: Excellent. One small area of fraying on the back.
Size: 2 1/4” wide, 2 1/4” high including dangles and 3/4” deep.



IMO LOCKET ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Locket and Photos ): I like to think that a loving adult daughter of the elderly Victorian couple pictured inside this locket wore and kept close to her this lovely enamel decorated “In Memory Of” 9 KT gold locket. (c. 1870-80) It is beautifully decorated with black and white enamel. Besides the white enamel lettering, the front has a white urn partially surrounded by forget-me-nots and resting on a patch of grass. There is a black enamel background. The edges and back of the locket are beautifully decorated by engraved circles and swirls. Inside are black and white photographs of her parents which have been tinted to give them a little color. Both have celluloid covers. The locket closes firmly and has a nice sized gold bale. A touching tribute “In Memory Of”.

Condition: Excellent. Locket closes firmly. Chain not included.
Size: Locket 1 1/2” high, 1 1/4” wide and 3/8” deep. Total height with bale 2 1/8”.



MINIATURE WORK OF ART (Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): Wow! This early Victorian Memorial Mourning Brooch is such a beautiful work of art and in such lovely condition that it is hard to believe it is nearly 170 years old! It is difficult to appreciate fully the work of the master artist who designed and constructed this dainty and delicate swirl of hair, dozens of palette-worked leaves on vines and small palate-worked flower – tied together by a band of three tiny seed pearls and curls of gold wire. They are in a glass covered enclosure and glued firmly on a milk glass background. The frame consists of an inner chased gold oval surrounded by black enamel decorated with large swirls of gold. Engraved on the reverse is “M.C.M” and “1849”. It has its original C clasp pinback. How fortunate M. C. M. is to have such a beautiful Memento Mori.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Brooch 2” wide, 1 5/8” high, 3/8” deep. Hair compartment 1” wide, 3/4” high.





THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Pendant ): Judging from their hair jewelry most Victorians were brunettes, making blond hair pieces more rare and desirable. (c. 1850-80) This is an exceptional blond hair pendant executed in a crisp palette-worked design of swirls and curls, gold wire twists and three seed pearls on a background of milk glass. The pendant is oval shaped, covered with glass and encased in 9 KT gold. Grand in size, glorious in execution this blond hair pendant is probably a sentimental piece worn proudly by an adoring woman. The delicate pattern of the fine hair could possibly be that of a child. There is a ring at the top to hold a chain. The reverse glass covered black fabric chamber is empty. The beauty and harmony of this blond pendant is graceful and feminine. It carries with it 150 years of history – a spectacular addition to any collection. I promise that you will be noticed wearing this eye-dazzling pendant!

Condition: Excellent. The chain is not included.
Size: 2” long, 1 5/8” wide, 3/8” deep.





A LIFE REMEMBERED ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Watercolor Pendant ): This exceptional Georgian Mourning Pendant is a one-of-a-kind work of art painted in watercolor on a grained surface. (c. 1780-1810) It is rich inmemento mori symbolism, featuring a kaleidoscope of little scenes from a true love and life remembered. The exact meaning may only be known to the original wearer, but we can speculate. Encircled by a 14 KT gold frame we have a large, colorful central shield-shaped tableau depicting a woman laying a wreath over two doves on a tomb. The birds represent the human soul. They are being covered by the wreath, a symbol of the victory of the deceased over death and of his redemption. Around the perimeter are three similar scenes painted in sepia: one of the woman laying a vine at the tomb, next the woman smiling and laying a wreath over a flaming heart (symbolic of marital love and passion) and finally a very unusual scene similar to the former – except the scene is black, indicative of mourning a death. Interspersed with these are tiny triangles of landscapes, one with a horse and rider. (Could it be the death occurred in a riding accident? We can only guess.) The reverse is also very interesting. On a background of blue silk lies a thin copper oval, decorated with a fabric cross. This pendant's bright and vivid colors remain to tell the story – a fascinating puzzle. It is from my personal collection so now I am also a part of its history. Continue its “life remembered” in your collection.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Pendant is 2 5/8” in diameter, 1/4” deep.





CROSSES & LOSES ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Gold Crosses & Hair Earrings ): With the swell of spiritual fervor influencing the Victorian view of life, the inevitability of death and the philosophy of dust to dust, only one's hair would last beyond the grave. Keeping a memorial made of hair was the natural extension of the act of caring. These 14 KT gold and hair earrings are an extraordinary find! In mint condition these cross earrings are from the early (Romantic) Victorian period. (c. 1840-60) Fine gold wire has been wrapped around tubular worked hair creating a “bubble” effect. The black oval centers display a textured gold circle and a slightly raised gold cross. The iconic cross symbolizes everlasting salvation, love and glory. The gold circle behind the cross represents eternity. A small hair orb dangles from the bottom of each earring. These little beauties have gold kidney wire closures for pierced ears. From my personal collection, these are one of the most unusual pair of earrings exhibiting a delicacy and refinement that is so remarkable that the most sophisticated collector will recognize these romantic cross earrings as representing the essence of the 19th Century.

Condition: Excellent/Mint.
Size: From top of ear to bottom of dangle 1 3/4”. Hair oval alone 1” high, 3/4” wide, 1/4” deep.





SIBLING MEMORIAL ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Swivel Hair Brooch ): Engraved around the edge:

“S. A. Hockin, obt. May 29, 1854 & his Sister”
“T. E. Petty, obt. April 4th, 1856”

I have handled a number of inscribed mourning pieces but this is the first I can remember memorializing a brother and sister. Having a brother I love dearly, I find that touching. This is not only a large and lovely swivel brooch, the palette-worked blond and light brown hair design on milk glass is in spectacular condition. Time and temperatures often gradually weaken the old glue's grip on the hair, gold wire and seed pearls so that many such pieces you will see have moving parts. Not so for this brooch – all are firmly in place. The front contains a single Prince of Wales curl and swirls of light brown hair (brother?) and an unusual lovely feather and long swirl of blond hair (sister?). All stem from a gold cuff containing 3 seed pearls with a gold bow at one end and a curlicue of gold wire extending from the other. The reverse is covered with tightly woven brown hair with a gold-leaf “chain” around the edge. Both surfaces are covered with protective, slight domed beveled glass. The brooch is in a gold-filled (gold over brass) setting made up of entwined gold “branches” in a broken branch pattern with with four applied engraved gold leaves. There is a replacement pin back with a tubular hinge and early style safety clasp. A spectacular addition to any collection. You will by noticed wearing this eye-dazzling brooch!

Condition: Excellent. Part of the gold leaf on the left is missing, but hardly noticeable.
Size: Total 3” high, 2 1/2” wide, 3/8” deep. Hair compartment 2” high, 1 3/4” wide.





DELICATE DANCING HAIR DROPS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): This pair of lacy and delicate brown Victorian table-worked earrings is a lovely example of mourning / sentimental jewelry. (c. 1850-70) These dangling earrings may well have been a sentimental token of love and affection since they lack the severe simplicity of mourning pieces. The three tubular hair dangles have 14KT gold caps at both the top and bottom. They are suspended from a circular golden wire cage that contains a single round drop. The shepard’s hook ear wires are original. When you hold them up – or better yet – wear them, you can truly appreciate what an art form this passion for intimate and personal jewelry had become to the Victorians. The rage from mourning and sentimental had risen dramatically after 1850 (the sad loss of Victoria’s husband, Albert) and was considered by many to be a superior choice to the wearing of metallic jewelry. What a treat to have these “ear bobs” dance near your face with every movement. Move over Scarlett O’Hara and make room for the delicacy and refinement of these outstanding Antique Hair Earrings.

Condition: Excellent. Firm with no fraying, dangles retain their original shape. One of the ear wires is slightly bent.
Size: 2” long, 1 1/4" wide, 3/8” deep.




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