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:


RINGS ON YOUR FINGERS ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Ring with Hair ): I seldom see Mourning Rings that are in perfect condition and this one is so rare that I had to share it with you. Tokens of hair are intimate and personal: “If I should from this world depart / You could still remember me.” This exceptional 1793 Georgian Ring is executed in sepia and watercolor on ivory, along with dissolved hair-work. The ring is inscribed “Sara Braikenridge 1793” on the reverse and the initials “S.B.” appear on the plinth. Above the mourner (Sara's mother?) at the tomb is a fancy “bow” made of Sara's hair. The groundwork at the base of the tomb is also done in Sara's hair which has been finely chopped and placed into the scene in the palette-worked method. The setting and ring band are 14KT gold in a graceful oval shape. Ring size is 7 ¼. A tangible touchstone from the past – an age when grief and remembrances were a part of life. A trophy awaiting some lucky collector! Pictured on pg. 73 of Maureen DeLorme's book “Mourning Art & Jewelry”.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: The oval is 1 1/4” high, 3/4” wide. Ring size is 7 ¼.



FLORAL FANTASY ( Antique Victorian Hair Mourning Jewelry Brooch / Pin ): This sumptuous Mid-Victorian Floral Hair Brooch is dazzling in a very special way (c. 1860-80) A truly exceptional brooch (possibly French), grand in scale and craftsmanship, it features a slightly oval ivory colored background that has been literally covered with flowers of every shape and size. Roses, daisies, buttercups, pansies, forget-me-nots, star flowers and an array of large and small leaves and stems spread out in a multi-layered profusion of floral fantasy! The brunette palette-worked hair has been done in the cut-work method in which the hair is spread over glue covered paper then cut out and layered into shapes of flower petals, leaves and stems. Look closely and you will see that the blossoms are actually 3-dimensional . The embellished golden setting is equally elaborate and dimensional. The glass covered back contains a hand tied curl of blond or gray hair – probably of the woman memorialized. The brooch has the original C clasp and extended pin back, also a tiny ring to hold a safety chain. This brooch is a miniature masterpiece of delicate work that speaks to the heart. “Of all keepsakes, memorials, relics – most dearly, most devotedly do I love a little lock of hair. All else is gone to nothing.”

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 3” wide, 2 3/8” high, 3/8” deep.



MOSAIC MEMORIAL ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Pietra Dura Pendant with Hair ): A rare Pietra Dura (literally “hard stone”) Pendant (c.1840-50), containing “Prince of Wales” plumes on the reverse side, is one of my present offerings. Pietra Dura mosaics are Florentine rather than the more commonly seen Roman mosaic pictures made of pieces of cemented glass. In Pietra Dura thin slices of colored stone are cut in shapes that fit together on a base of black marble, like a jigsaw puzzle held in place by ridges and depressions along the edges, not glue or cement. They most commonly have a floral motif or birds and butterflies. Value depends on quality of of workmanship and condition. This miniature work of art is perfect! Graceful leaves of several colors are accented with white blossoms and tiny forget-me-nots with buds form a lovely circular floral garland on the front. The reverse contains brown hair curls with tiny seed pearls and a gold wire twist. The silver rim contains a replacement celluloid cover and there is a very ample Sterling Silver bale. It is from my personal collection so now I am part of its long history. Continue its “life remembered” in your collection.

Condition: Excellent.
Size:1 3/4” high, 1 3/8”wide, 1/4” deep.



FROM THE GRAVE ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Painted Skull Brooch / Pin ): As many of you may have noticed, I am in the process of offering pieces from my exceptional personal collection of Mourning Jewelry to caring collectors who will become the next caretakers of my treasured pieces. It is a form of mourning in itself as I have loved and taken pride in the ownership of these meaningful mementos. This dainty brooch presents circles of 14 KT gold accented by tiny natural pearls and larger flat cut garnets. Enclosed under glass is the central portrait – in sepia on ivory – of a human skull. (c. 1750-90) Beautifully rendered, it is an eternal reminder that “we all must die”. I purchased this piece around 30 years ago at the Manhattan Antique Center. The starkness of the skull image “Death Head” and its message of death is relieved by the setting garnished with pearls and garnets. There is a C clasp closure and pin stem that appear to be original to the brooch. This dainty Georgian Brooch is a tangible touchstone to the distant past – an age where death, grief and remembrance were an integral part of life.

Condition: Excellent. A few feint marks on the back of the setting.
Size: Just under 1” in diameter. Painted skull in 1/2” in diameter.



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.



GLITTERING GEORGIAN PASTE ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Paste and Hair Pin / Pendant ): A terrific quality antique Georgian English solid Sterling Silver Mourning/Sentimental Brooch/Pendant. The piece is curved and beautifully set with lovely bright faceted individually cut foiled paste. (c. 1780) Each paste stone displays a distinct black dot to simulate the open culet of an old cut diamond, with inner rose gold faced bezel highlights. The double row of paste stones surround a glass locket retaining a finely braided brown hair memento topped with a blond hair lock held by a trio of tiny seed pearls. (The curved shape indicates that this was possibly originally a buckle converted in antiquity.) In 1724 French jewel designer, Georges Frédéric Strass, came up with “paste”, a kind of leaded glass that he cut and polished with metal powder until it appeared to “shimmer” in the light like a diamond. In candle light they glittered and gleamed with white fire giving the appearance of true diamonds everywhere. There is an early C clasp pin closure and a pendant ring at the top to accommodate a silver chain. An additional silver ring was added at the bottom in antiquity. A very high quality, good sized Georgian example of paste mixed with hair – probably a sentimental memorial. You will be noticed wearing this eye-dazzling pendant!

Condition: Excellent. Hair is immaculate, no missing pastes. Chain is not included.
Size: 1 5/8” high, 2' wide, 1/4” deep. Hair memento 7/8” high, 1 1/4” wide.



MEMORIAL FLAMES ( Antique Georgian Enamel Mourning Jewelry Brooch / Pin ): I have never seen another mourning piece as unique as this one. (c. 1800-1830) The enameling on this plaque is just superb. The deep blue frame practically glows with ornamentation. The central delicate enamel scene depicts a young blond woman dressed in a pale green, pink and yellow gossamer dress. She is holding a golden urn that probably contains the ashes of a loved one. Next to her is a memorial column decorated with a swag of pink roses and topped by a smoking flame. What is the story being told here? The enamel work is as dazzling and colorful as the day it was made. The enamel plaque is set in a highly ornamented brass frame about 1/4” wide. A C clasp pin back appears to be part of the frame – married in antiquity. I do not know if this was originally made to be set in a picture frame or possibly a box top. What I do know is that it is extremely lovely!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 2 7/8” high, 2 1/8” wide including the frame.



HAIR HOOPS ( Antique Victorian Mourning / Sentimental Jewelry Hair Earrings ): A change of pace for today! I am offering you this very fine pair of hair covered hoop earrings. (c. 1840) These hoops are quite dainty with 9 KT gold accents and a twisted gold wire half circle for further embellishment. These pierced earrings may well have been a sentimental token of love or affection. (Possibly made in India where this hoop design was popular. A soldier stationed there could have sent them back home.) See close-up photos for unusual closure – a tiny hook that fits in a tiny gold loop. You press on the side of the gold wire a the top to open and close. Make room in your collection for these unusual delicate delights. A contemporary look with an antique heritage!

Condition: Excellent. Handle the hair carefully.
Size: Hoop is 1 1/4” in diameter. Hair covered wire is 1/8” wide.



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.



FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE ( Antique Victorian Jewelry Bone Cross Pendant ): One of the marvels of antique jewelry is the layers of symbols incorporated in each piece. This superior Victorian Bone Cross, with a hand carved Cherub head at its center, was often used as a “cradle cross”. (c. 1869-1890) Hung above a baby's cradle, it provided protection against evil and blessings from above. A charming idea that could be used today. The little Cherub has tiny curls of hair and perfect, detailed feathered wings. The cross is solid rounded bone, not hollow or flat. It has been hand carved to show thorns. Outstanding in its entirety, this good sized cross is the perfect size to wear on a chain. When a young child died – all to frequently – it could be placed in the coffin to assure eternal rest. The soft radiance and patina of this antique cross can not be matched. (You can see the distinct grain on the three rounded ends of the cross.) Since this piece came from my personal collection I had a 14 KT gold bale added. I wore it on two strands of small ivory beads and it always brought me compliments. Mix the color of bone with jet and you can be stepping out of today's fashion magazines. A Heavenly piece of jewelry to wear, own and display!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Cross is 4” high (not including bale), 2” wide, 1/2” deep. Cherub head is 3/4” high, 1 1/8” wide, 3/8” deep.



GRACEFUL HAIR PLUME ( Antique Georgian Bone Hair Decorated Patch Box Pendant ): Originally this circular bone pendant was a Georgian (c. 1790-1800) patch box used by ladies to keep tiny decorative fabric cut-out designs that they would apply to their face and bosom to highlight a good feature or cover a blemish. It was the fashion to wear a heart, rose, star or even a carriage with horses – that was a big patch! I believe that this was a sentimental gift, not a mourning piece. A graceful plume of brown hair curls softly under the glass with the initials “DEB”. Since this box comes from my private collection it has a gold band to keep the box closed and a bale with a tiny bone bead to make it a charming pendant. I wore this pendant often and people were always fascinated with the idea of wearing patches. When I was young I would wear a black or red velvet hear on my cheek for “special occasions”. What ever happened to special occasions? Be a confidant woman or collector knowing that no one else has what you have. Own this very special piece of hair art.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Pendant is 1 5/8” in diameter, 5/8” deep, hangs 2 3/8” with bale. Covered plume of hair 1” diameter.



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.



MAJESTIC MUSEUM QUALITY JET ( Victorian Jewelry Whitby Jet Brooch / Pin ): This outstanding Victorian Whitby Jet Brooch is stunning in size and decorative appeal. (c. 1860-80) The very finest jet ever discovered came from the cliffs around Whitby, England. Jet jewelry and small jet carvings were coveted souvenirs of a visit to this seaside town. The intensity of the black color made jet the perfect stone to reflect the deepest grief of Queen Victoria following the death of her beloved Albert. Quite grand in scale, this breath-taking brooch is superb in every respect. The top layer of the pin is an exquisitely carved “lover's knot” set on a platform high above the base. The oval platform is almost architectural in appearance – made up of waves of jet, multiple decorative perforations and buttons of jet at each end. This kind of carving could only be done by a master and given the amount of jet used it was surely intended for a wealthy client. Fifteen years ago I used to see large pieces like this and thought “how expensive!” Now rarely seen, most such pieces have gone into museums or private collections. This brooch came to me from an estate. It can be worn up and down or sideways. The extended pin stem fastens with a C clasp closure. I would advise wearing this on a jacket or coat – heavy fabric would suit it best. Jet is always majestic, elegant and sophisticated. Fit for a modern day queen!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Huge – 2 3/4” long, 1 1/2” high, 1 1/2” deep.


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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