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:


MEMEMTO ADA ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): This small 19th Century American Hair Brooch (c. 1861) contains 2 dark brown Prince of Wales Plumes decorated with tiny seed pearls and gold wire twists. It is surrounded by a braid of hair. A black enamel band edged by a gold rim forms a frame for the hair and it has a C clasp pin back closure. However, what makes this brooch exciting to me is the engraving on the back and what a little research has revealed about its true meaning. It says: “Mrs. Henry B. Curtis, Mount Vernon, O. from LKB. Memento Ada”. Who is LKB? Who is Ada? Why does LKB give Mrs. Curtis a “Remember Ada” brooch? It turns our that Elizabeth Hogg Curtis (1803-78) was the wife of Henry B. Curtis, a lawyer and very prominent citizen of Mount Vernon, Ohio. She was the mother of 8 children and the matriarch of the Curtis Mansion – Round Hill. (I have included a photo of the grave of Mrs. Curtis.) One of those children was named “Ada” and she died at the young age of 25 (1836-61). Ada's husband was Lewis K. Bridge (LKB). Lewis had this brooch made with Ada's hair and gave it to his mother-in-law as a memento of his wife and her daughter. Lewis died just 2 years later – probably of a broken heart. The Curtis family owned Round Hill until 1996. They continue to own land and an Ice Cream Shop in Mount Vernon named Round Hill Dairy. How cool is that!

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



“TO MEMORY DEAR” PENDANT ( Antique Georgian Sepia & Hair Mourning Jewelry Pendant ): From my personal collection, this has been one of my most prized Georgian Mourning pieces. (c. 1810-20) On the front is a superb sepia painting of a woman standing by the tomb of her dear departed husband. She is beautifully dressed in a classical gown with a long delicate veil. If you look with a loop you will see that the veil is decorated with white dots representing flowers. She holds an anchor indicating her husband was lost at sea. The painting is mainly sepia but, though hard to see in our photos, her skin is a pale pink and the anchor a dark blue. The tomb is topped by by the eternal flame and a weeping willow tree is in the background. The tomb bears the inscription: “THO' LOST TO SIGHT TO MEMORY DEAR.” The grass and bush on the right contain mulched hair. On the reverse is a large palette-worked plume of her husband's reddish-brown hair on milk glass backed by red foil with wavy ridges. Front and back covers are celluloid. The area surrounding the hair appears black but is actually deep blue cobalt glass over foil. It has a plain 15 KT gold frame and a replacement bale. As you can see it is larger than most Georgian pendants and may be worn with pride or just admired as part of your collection.

Condition: Excellent. Two small gold wires have fallen to the bottom of the hair plume but do not move. Chain is not included.
Size: Total height with bale 3”. Pendant alone 2 1/2” high, 2” wide, 3/8” deep.



MEMENTO MORI ( Antique French Post-Mortem Portrait ): Today most would think that a painting of the dead would be morbid. In the 1800's, and before, deaths in the immediate family were very common – very much a part of life. It was felt that remembering deceased loved ones was very important. Thus Mourning Jewelry, Photography and Portraits were important mementos for the family. This beautifully painted portrait of a relatively young woman shows her posed in bed as if just asleep, dressed in a beautiful white gown and flower decorated headdress, holding her cross and beads – close to her God. The wood frame is decorated with inlay. Most exciting is the hand written note on the back. It is very hard to read but roughly translated I think it says: “Cesarine Louise, wife of Joseph Taffin de Givenchy died in Paris on the 25 of March 1851 during her 39th year”. By the way – Count Hubert Taffin de Givenchy founded the famous fashion house!

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Frame 6 3/4” high, 4 7/8” wide, 3/8” deep. Portrait 3 1/2” high, 3” wide.



WOVEN HAIR BRACELET ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Bracelet ): From my personal collection, this is undoubtedly the most intricate and gorgeous hair bracelet I have ever seen. It is made up of 3 strands of woven hair woven around each other. But for even more complexity each of those 3 strands is made up of 4 smaller woven strands of hair, again woven around each other. For added beauty 2 of the small strands are woven so that they have 4 relatively smooth vertical bands on them while the other 2 have a spiral pattern. What craftsmanship! All the strands gather within a beautifully engraved 14 KT Gold barrel shaped cap at each end with a longer, similarly decorated, barrel shaped link between them. There is a tongue-in-groove closure at one end of the central barrel. Two swags of tiny gold rope with gold tassels at one end act as a safety chain between the 2 caps. One end has a tiny tongue-in-groove clasp. This bracelet is in such perfect condition that it must have been kept in a display case. A jewel for any hair jewelry collection.

Condition: Excellent. Like new!
Size: 7 1/2” long, 1/2” in diameter.



ACORN BROOCH ( Antique Victorian Sentimental Gold & Hair Acorn Brooch / Pin ): Great Oaks from little Acorns grow – the acorns on this stunningly beautiful brooch symbolize strength, potential and longevity. These 4 lovely table-worked brown hair acorns on their gold leafed branch were probably a Victorian Sentimental piece as opposed to one of Mourning. (c. 1870-80) The textured surface on the front surface of the 4 gold leaves, the branch and the stems give it a realistic appearance. It has the original elongated pin commonly used in Victorian C clasp closures. A lovely addition to any collection of antique hair jewelry.

Condition: Excellent. Some of the gold caps are not firmly glued in place but it doesn't show.
Size: 2” long, 1 1/2” wide, 3/8” deep.



RING OF GOLD ( Antique Georgian Gold Engraved Mourning Jewelry Ring ): This is a really high quality 15 KT Gold Georgian Mourning Ring. The band is beautifully made with hand-chased decoration all the way around and a vitreous black enamel frame surrounding a compartment of woven brown hair. The compartment is fronted by a beveled glass cover. Not only is it a lovely memento but it had a special meaning to some Victorian lady. It is engraved with the name and date of death of a special loved one: “C. J. Spens, Died 12th Sept. 1831”.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Band width 5/16”. Ring size 6.



“IN MEMORY OF” ( Antique Victorian Gold & Enamel Mourning Jewelry Locket / Pendant ): I have sold a number of IMO (In Memory Of) Lockets but I believe this is my favorite. Not only is the outside beautifully decorated but the hair inside is meaningful. The front is decorated by a gold cross with the central areas hand engraved. Behind it on a black enamel background are 3 Passion Flowers and foliage. The “In Memory Of” banner wraps around the cross. Gold flower covered stems provide provide the frame. The back is all gold with hand engraved flowers and leaves and the initials “JAN”. Inside, the compartment on the left has a Prince of Wales plume of gray hair and that on the right woven light brown hair mixed with gray. Both sides have celluloid covers. The locket closes tightly. There is a nice sized gold ring bale at the top. I think this is IMO of either J. A. N.'s mother and father, or grandmother and grandfather, and the wear on the back shows she loved it and wore it often if not always.

Condition: Very good. There is some wear of the engraving on the back and the gold wire decorations of the plume of hair are loose. Chain not included.
Size: Total height with bale 2”. Locket 1 5/8” high, 1 1/4” wide, 3/8” deep.



RING OF ETERNAL LOVE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Gold Ring ): As many of you know – I do love snakes on my jewelry. Ever since I learned that Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a jeweled snake engagement ring because the snake meant Eternal Love – I have loved them. And this is a beauty! The face of blonde woven hair is encircled by two 18 KT gold snakes holding each others tail. The snakes are engraved with scales and facial features. The ring band is also engraved with what could be interpreted as scales. As a bonus the inside of the band is stamped with all the old British jewelry marks. The Maker's Mark is “L & W”, the anchor means it was made in Birmingham, “18” means 18 KT Gold, and “A” is the date – 1868-69. I believe the second stamp is the top of a crown but I don't know what that stands for on gold – perhaps the assay office. Someone please continue to take good care of my Eternal Love Snakes.

Condition: Very good. Several small dents in the gold back of the face of the ring and moderate wear to the back of the band. Someone did love and wear this ring.
Size: Face 1” high, 3/4” wide, 1/8” deep. Band width 1/8”. Ring size 5 3/4.



FLORAL JET BRACELET ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Jet Bracelet ): Popular women's jewelry in Victorian England was dictated by the popular Queen Victoria. She remained in mourning for her beloved Prince Albert from his death in 1861 until her own death in 1901 – thus commenced Mourning Jewelry's most popular period. Seeking ways to make black jewelry more beautiful, more acceptable and more accessible to English women, jewelry artists turned to Jet. Jet is ancient fossilized wood which underwent extreme pressure and heat. Jet from the Whitby area was the finest – deep black throughout (thus the term “jet black”), even in texture so it could be easily carved and polished and very light weight. This beautiful Whitby Jet Stretch Bracelet (c. 1870-80) consists of 6 medallions, each with a different carved flower on it – each with their own meaning in the Victorian Language of Flowers. I believe they are Jasmine (faithfulness), Geranium (sincerity), Rose (love), Violet (modesty), Heather (admiration) and Rose (more love). The medallions are framed in gleaming polished black. The flowers and their background are only partially polished to give them a different appearance. A rectangular plate of jet separates the medallions. I'm sure this has been restrung with relatively new elastic. You will not find a more beautiful Jet Bracelet.

Condition: Excellent
.Size: Inner circumference 7”. Each medallion 1 1/4” high, 1” wide, 3/8” deep. It will easily stretch over your hand.



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.



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”.



PARTY TIME! ( Mourning/Sentimental Hair and Carved Bone Pendant with Multi-strand Bone Bead Necklace ): Ladies! Have you ever seen a Mourning/Sentimental Jewelry item so ready and eager to decorate you for your next fancy-dress night out? Stunning on red or black. I have to confess this necklace is part old (c. 1870-80) and part new. (Perfect for a wedding gift.) The center area of the pendant – consisting of the palette-worked curl of brown hair with two seed pearls surrounded by delicately carved grape leaves, bunches of grapes and a fancy bow in an 18 KT gold setting – was originally an Antique Victorian Brooch. To turn it into something more glamorous that I could wear to parties, I had my talented jeweler add two rows of small bone beads to frame the pendant, along with several additional bone “grapes” (the new ones are slightly lighter in color) and a large gold and bone bale. The pendant hangs from a six strand bone bead necklace with a screw closure. Since this is only partly antique I have deeply discounted the price. But what a beauty!

Condition: Excellent. I think the tip of the top end of the ribbon bow is chipped.
Size: Pendant 2 1/2” high, 1 7/8” wide, 3/8” deep. Hair compartment 7/8” high, 1/2” wide. Necklace 17 1/2” long.



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.



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.



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.




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.




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