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: Price:


HAND OF LOVE ( Victorian Antique Vulcanite Hand Brooch / Pin ): Hands holding flowers and wreaths were common motifs in jewelry, lithography and cemetery iconography. This Antique Mourning Brooch, made of Vulcanite, shows a hand holding a branch of yew leaves and a wreath of roses. (c. 1880) The Yew tree symbolizes sadness and immortality, the wreath of roses tell us of love and death and symbolizes victory of the deceased and redemption. A lot of messages in one hand!! The ruffled cuff is a nice detail. Hand Brooches are nice to have since they are so sturdy. We don't have to guess at the date of this Antique Hand Brooch. The metal plate on the back bears an English Registry Mark for May 18, 1880. It has its original pin back C clasp closure. A brooch like this one appears on Page 114 of Maureen DeLorme’s fabulous book “Mourning Art & Jewelry”. I wear several of these hand brooches at a time – often in combinations of black and ivory. Reach out your hand for this sweet and timeless expression of love and loss.

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






FANCIFUL EAR BOBS ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): These dangling earrings may well have been a sentimental token of friendship or affection since they lack the severe simplicity of mourning pieces. This pair of lacy and delicate dark brown Victorian table-worked earrings is a lovely example of mourning/sentimental jewelry. (c. 1850-70) The four tubular oblong hair dangles have 9 KT gold caps at both the top and bottom. They are suspended from two hair orbs similarly capped. The gold shepard's hooks are original. What a treat to have these fanciful “ear bobs” dance near your face with every move of your head. Make room in your collection for these playful, yet delicate, outstanding Antique Hair Earrings.

Condition: Excellent. The oblong dangles are slightly flattened, probably due to being stored in too small a box. The orbs are fully rounded.
Size: The earring hang 2 5/8” long, about 7/8” wide.




HAIR THE ESSENCE OF THE SOUL ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): I am offering you this very fine pair of table worked hair earrings. (c. 1850-70) These earrings, with 9 KT gold findings, seem to represent acorns surrounded by finely worked tubular hair. These could be memorial earrings or gifts of sentimental remembrance. Acorns usually mean power and tribute, or these may be a token of nature so beloved by the Victorians. Each earring has a cluster of three table worked hair acorns topped by a golden leaf. These beauties are suspended from a hair acorn with a floral shaped center and retain their original kidney wire closures. Special hairwork earrings like these are rare and becoming harder to find without damage. These are superb examples of the love and the care taken with delicate treasures of a live well lived. What a treat to own these special “ear bobs”.

Condition: Excellent. All original, handle with care as they have survived for over 150 years.
Size: From top of hook 1 7/8” long. Dangle 1 1/8” long, 7/8” wide, 1/4” deep.



BLACK AS JET ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Jet Earrings ): Considering that many Victorian women wore black for most of their lives, it is not surprising that they would want to enhance their “toilet” with a bit of fashionable elegance. Hand carved from the very finest Jet – Whitby – these reverse image earrings are a wonderful find. (c. 1840-50) Jet is a form of fossilized coal that is light weight, shiny or matte, and became the perfect stone to reflect the deepest grief. These dainty and feminine hand carved Jet pierced earrings display a mixture of Oak Leaves, Acorns and Acorn Caps. Oak Leaves and Acorns are traditional symbols of stability, strength, honor and power. The empty caps indicate loss. The shepherd’s hook ear wires are also black for mourning. Jet has become alarmingly difficult to find as foreign collectors have snapped up Jet pieces. An elegant example of the allure of Jet – black, flashing and alive, these “earbobs” shimmer and glint as they dance next to your face.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Jet motif is 1 1/8” long, 5/8” wide.



GLITTERING GOLDEN BLONDE BRAIDS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Pin / Brooch ): Judging from their Hair Jewelry, most Victorian's were brunettes, making blonde hair pieces the more desirable. This is a beautiful blonde Antique Woven Hair Brooch (c. 1850-80). The hair – protected under a beveled glass cover – is in an appropriate 14KT gold setting with an inner surround that looks like small nuggets of glittering gold. On magnified examination there are fine linear decorations and various depressions, but no regular pattern. Since there is no black on this brooch, it may well have been a sentiment piece worn to remain close to a loved one. There is a replacement pin stem attached to a plate of metal on the back with a C clasp. It must have been a very early replacement not to have used a safety clasp. Glittering Golden Nuggets surrounding Golden Blonde Braids – a lovely addition to any collection.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Total 1 1/2” wide, 1 1/8” high, 1/4” deep. Hair compartment 1 1/4” wide, 7/8” high.





RARE HOPE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Art Framed Bone Figure ): I mainly collect, buy and sell Mourning Jewelry but this lovely carved Antique Bone figure of “Hope” caught my fancy. The Bible in 1st Corinthians 13:13 says “And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” The age old symbols for these virtues are a cross for “Faith”, an anchor for “Hope” and a heart for “Charity” or “Love”. I found this beautifully carved figure of “Hope” both lovely and moving. Notice her flowing cape and tiny toes. (c. 1860-80) Her hands are in the position of prayer. She is placed on deep red velvet over a metal sheathed cardboard disc fit into a gold metal sheathed oval wood frame. The inner lining of the frame is decoratively chased. The figure is safely placed under a dome of Celluloid. I'm sure there was once a cover over the back, and a large loop hanger, but someone has put in two small screws and a red string to hang it by. Loving large jewelry, I would probably add a wire and ring and wear it as a pendant. However you chose to display her, she would make a wonderful and unusual addition to any Victorian or Mourning collection.

Condition: Excellent. There is some wear to the gold metal frame which makes it look like antique gold. The backing is off, but could easily be replaced. The edges of the velvet are worn.
Size: Frame 4” high, 3 1/2” wide. Figure 2” high, 1 1/4” wide.





PRETTY AS A PICTURE ( Victorian Antique Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): I know from the black enamel around the woven hair on this brooch (c 1860-80) that it memorializes someone who has passed on, yet it is relatively cheerful in its appearance. Perhaps that is the way this person, “J. Fillebrown”, is meant to be remembered. The multicolored light brown hair is surrounded by a rich 9KT gold engraved frame on the black enamel which has a plain gold band around its edge. That gold is actually the setting for this brooch with the engraved name on the back. The hair is safely encased under a beveled glass cover which has kept it in excellent condition and makes it safe for you to wear. It has a replacement hinge and pin stem, but the C clasp closure on the back is original. I often wear one of these small Mourning Pins as one of a cluster of three for greater impact. This brooch is from my personal collection so now I am part of its history. Add it to your collection and then pass it on to someone you love.

Condition: Excellent. A few small dents on the back of the pin. Hair in perfect condition.
Size: 1 1/2” wide, 1 1/4” high, 1/4” deep.





PROMISE OF IMMORTALITY ( Georgian Jewelry Mourning Brooch ): While Heaven was the understood goal of life’s journey, there was a passionate, often repeated, desire not to be forgotten. Women wanted to leave something tangible behind. Hairwork mementos offered the promise of immortality in a very mortal world. This diminutive 14KT gold Georgian hair lace pin tells a story all its own. (c. 1830) The Grecian-style neo-classic frame features a Greek key design executed in black and white enamel. White enamel was used to indicate mourning for a child or a virgin maiden. The brown, tightly plaited hair is set under beveled glass with a raised embellished bezel setting providing a luxurious touch of gold. The back has its original C clasp closure. Georgian jewelry tended to be smaller than Victorian. Much rarer than black enamel, the white enamel provides a dainty and feminine beauty to this petite, delicate brooch. This Antique Mourning Brooch serves as an eternal memorial and is a way to keep precious memories alive.

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




HOPE FROM HEAVEN ( Georgian Mourning Jewelry Locket / Pendant ): A haunting and prevalent image from the late 18th & early 19th Centuries is that of a woman with an anchor. Dressed in idealized attire of the Grecian style, far from pathetic, she is a female Atlas, bearing a world of grief on her slim shoulders. In this polychrome painted Georgian Locket the woman is leaning on a blue anchor and points up to heaven. (c. 1790) In the background a ship at sea bravely sports a long red pennant and a blue banner waving from the masts tops, along with a large red flag flying from the aft pole. Though nautical in theme, the loss of this loved one may have been from a number of causes. The anchor theme always represents “Hope and Salvation”. Standing on a rocky promontory, this image appears to be beseeching heaven above to return her loved one from the dangers of the sea. I love her little bright yellow shoes and deep blue cloak. The color is so bright that it could have been painted yesterday. This Georgian Antique Locket / Pendant is set in 15KT gold with the original glass covers on both sides. The locket opens from the back and presently has a background of fabric. You could put a photo or a lock of hair under the back cover. The bale swivels from side to side. (The chain is not included.) Most Georgian polychrome painted pieces are pins, so it is refreshing to have a pendant in sturdy, wearable condition. This Antique Mourning Locket / Pendant is a tangible touchstone from the past – an age where grief and remembrance were an integral part of life.

Condition: Excellent. Over 200 years have produced some surface scratches and two spots of flaked polychrome at 6 & 8 o’clock. The price reflects these tiny imperfections.
Size: Locket and bale 1 7/8” high, 1 1/4” wide, 1/4” deep.



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BLACK BRANCHES OF GRIEF ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Jet Brooch ): Jet, as a material with memorial symbolism and one having the power to ward off evil, dates back to the 7th Century. “Tis black and shining, smooth and even light.” The intensity of the black color made jet the perfect stone to reflect the deepest grief. This stunning hand carved Whitby Jet Victorian Mourning Brooch (c. 1850) brings together all of the most prominent symbols of grief. The finest Whitby Jet has been carved in the “broken branch” foliage theme that was favored by the Victorians. There are six tiny pearl “tears” resting on the jet leaves. The central glass oval contains a lock of pale blond hair set in an engraved low carat gold frame. With its C clasp closure and extended pin stem, this is a brooch that delivers the essence of fine Mourning Jewelry that was – and still is – so highly prized.

Condition: Excellent. Note: Some of the pearls are probably replacements that match the originals. The tip of one leaf was chipped long ago.
Size: 2” wide, 1 1/2” high, 5/8” deep. Hair compartment is 3/4” wide, 5/8” high.




PLEDGE OF REMEMBRANCE ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Pin / Brooch ): It is a pleasure to offer you this lovely mourning/sentimental Victorian brooch featuring a smooth chalcedony background stone. (c. 1870-80) Chalcedony is a family of minerals that are milky white to bluish in color. The soft radiance and glow of this stone made it suitable for half-mourning. This translucent milky stone makes a beautiful background for the elaborate gold plated center plaque containing finely woven dark brown hair. The hair is bezel set under a beveled celluloid cover. (Celluloid was invented in 1868.) The gold plated setting features engraved ribbon motifs at all four compass points. The back of this Antique Hair Brooch features a C clasp pin back. This is a very feminine and attractive brooch that truly looks well on all colors and can be casual or dressy. It goes very nicely with MJ078, a deep rust striated agate brooch of similar design.

Condition: Excellent. A bit of wear to the gold plating. Of no significance in a piece this old.
Size: 2 1/4” wide, 1 7/8” high, 1/4” deep. Hair oval is 7/8” wide, 1/2” high.




THE WINDOW OF THE SOUL ( Antique Georgian Jewelry Lover's Eye Portrait Miniature Pendant / Brooch ): Eyes have long been thought of as the “windows of the soul”, alternately revealing and concealing one's deepest thoughts and feelings. A “Lover's Eye” miniature is a painting of the giver's eye presented to a loved one. The notion accompanying their short-lived fad (c. 1790-1830) was that the eye would be recognizable only to the recipient and usually worn hidden from view. One popular theory as to the origin of the Eye Portrait has its roots from the late 18th Century when the flamboyant, style-setting Prince of Wales was refused permission by his father, King George III, and by British law to wed the widowed (and Catholic) Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. The widow avoided the Prince's proposal by escaping to Europe. In order to keep his romance with her a secret from the disapproving court, an Eye Miniature was conceived. Apparently the gift of his gaze did the trick and they were secretly (and illegally) married. In turn the bride had her eye painted in order that she might covertly present it to the Prince. Soon nobility followed the Prince's lead and the trend spread to the continent taking Europe by storm. The Prince, turned King George IV, was found to be wearing Mrs. Fitzherbert's intimate eye miniature when he died. These eye miniatures were an extremely intense manifestation of an already emotionally charged art. Some eye miniatures were expressions of love and loss, which later grew to include friendship and portraits of children. Queen Victoria revived the genre by giving portraits of her eye to favored relatives and advisors. I purchased this Georgian piece over 40 years ago and have always been struck by the bold gaze of a woman's very blue right eye. The marquise shaped rose gold setting is framed by black dot paste stones. The reverse is delicately engraved and contains a hair memento of the loved one under glass. The safety 14 KT clasp pin back is a replacement or possibly an addition. The ring and safety chain at the top appear to be original. The brooch may be worn as a pendant by threading a chain or ribbon through the ring. These very personal love tokens from 200 years ago are very rare and highly prized. I know that I have loved this one!

Condition: Excellent. The original safety chain is still in place. Some wear to engraving on back and a tiny chip at the base of glass cover. Neck chain not included.
Size: 1 3/4” high, 1 1/8” wide. Eye wafer 1 3/8” high, 3/4” wide.



IN HEAVEN & IN MY HEART ( Antique Georgian Sepia Mourning Jewelry Pair of Pearl Bracelets ): As may of you may have noticed, I am in the process of offering my exceptional personal collection of Mourning Jewelry to caring collectors who will become caretakers of my treasured pieces. It is a form of mourning in itself as I have loved and taken pride in the ownership of such meaningful mementos. This French “book piece” is a very rare matching set of Georgian sepia bracelets. The pair have exceptional 18th Century (c. 1770-90) sepia, watercolor and hairwork clasps with pearl bracelets of wonderful quality and the subject mater is so touching. Each navette shaped clasp depicts a different mourning scene hand painted with tender delicacy and accented with hair. In one clasp the mourning woman is represented as a shepherdess with two lambs. A popular theme in 18th Century pastoral paintings, lambs were a common symbol for a child's death – gentleness, purity and innocence as well as sacrificial love as personified in Christ. Just to keep the mourning women busy, she is also seen searching for her beloved and is writing his name. In the other clasp she is placing a funeral wreath on a tree in his memory. The six rows of pearls are replacements for the original eight rows of smaller pearls. Tongue and groove closures lock the clasps in place. In my possession for 20 years, these rare and outstanding bracelets are pictured in Maureen DeLorme's informative book “Mourning Art and Jewelry”, page 82. These rare sepia and pearl bracelets would be a timeless centerpiece to add to any collection.

Condition: Very good. The shepherdess clasp has a crack in the surface of the painting, some wear on back of clasp. Other clasp has a small flaw at bottom of the glass cover. The rarity of these 225+ year old pieces makes the slight flaws acceptable.
Size: Clasps are 3/4” wide, 1 1/4” long. Total bracelet length 7 1/4”, 1” wide.



THE ROSE AND THE DOVE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Memorial Painting Pendant ): This painted Victorian Mourning Picture/Pendant is so exquisite that to part with it has been a very difficult decision. Being both a piece of memorial art and a pendant makes it doubly desirable. (c. 1860-80) Possibly originally inset into a box or used as a portable memorial, this romantic image is rich in symbolism. At the center the plinth features an urn with an eternal flame burning at its top. Notice the clock at the center of the plinth – the inevitable passage of time – symbolizes the shortness of life. Two kissing doves who seem to be parting – on the right the white male dove is bright but his female companion appears to be fading in color and clarity as she departs. This represents the soul. The darkening blue sky is clouded and the two green trees are leaning, no longer upright. Yet there are abundant pink roses, romantic but they are a symbol of love and death, a common motif in mourning paintings. There is such an air of sweetness in this rare mourning portrait of parting. It is painted on slate. The frame is rose gold and I have had three fully dimensional roses with leaves added to the top so that they could conceal a pendant loop. Perhaps no collector will snap this up and I won't have to part with it! “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Condition: Excellent.
Size: 2 1/2” in diameter, 1/8” deep. Roses are 1 1/2” long, 1/4” deep.



THE DEAR REMAINS OF MOTHER ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Sepia & Hair Pendant / Pin ): This spectacular English Georgian mourning pendant/pin is almost beyond description in the quality of the workmanship, detailing beauty, symbolism and hair work. (c. 1790-1830) A story of sadness is evident in this touching sepia on porcelain pendant. The scene depicts a grief stricken woman in classical dress seated next to a tomb with an urn. An exquisite Weeping Willow Tree hangs gently over the mournful scene. The image is unusually crisp and clear. The sides of the 14 KT rose gold oval pendant are engraved with a chain link motif. On the reverse side you will see gray hair beautifully woven. The center holds a rose gold framed inset which reads : “The Dear Remains off the Best and most Beloved of Mothers.” I have added a Victorian Watch Pin of rose gold and black enamel to the pendant ring so this memorial can be worn as a pin as well as a pendant. This is another personal piece from my 45 years of collecting Mourning Jewelry. It is a tangible touchstone from the past – an age where grief and remembrances were an integral part of life.

Condition: Excellent. Some fine surface scratches to the glass, common on pieces that were worn.
Size: Oval is 2” long, 1 1/2” wide, 1/8” deep. Watch pin is 5/8” high, 1 1/2” wide. Total length for both pieces is 3 1/2”.


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