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Mourning & Sentimental 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:


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.



FABULOUS FRAMED MEMORIAL ( Antique Victorian French Framed Hairwork Mourning Portrait ): This charming French woman appears to have passed away at a relatively young age. She was gone but obviously not forgotten. Family members had this Museum Quality Framed Memorial Portrait created as a beautiful memento of her. It contains her gold foil framed photograph, vines made of her hair with palette-worked leaves and four lovely dimensional palate-worked flowers, a loop of her hair loosely tied around the base of the vine – all surrounded by a long braid of her plaited brown hair with pale pink bows of ribbon at each end. Printed in French near the bottom is “Céfine Guitard”, “Deceased the 19 July 1897”. The background is a pale aqua milk glass and all is enclosed under domed glass. One rarely finds a Hairwork Memorial Framed Portrait of this quality. Don't pass it up!

Condition: Excellent. Photograph is faded but all the hairwork is pristine.
Size: Frame 11 1/2” high, 9 1/2” wide, 1 1/4” deep. Hairwork area 7 3/4” high, 6” wide.



DAINTY AND DELICATE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Ring ): I seldom see mourning rings that are in excellent condition, but this one is so perfect 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 lovely quality English Mourning Ring is beautifully made with exquisite ornate black vitreous enamel decoration on both the ring shoulders and encircling the hair memento at the center. This dainty 15 KT gold ring is petite and discrete. The rare blond woven hair is set under a glass cover. The inside of the band is hallmarked “H & S” (probably a maker's mark) and “15 CT”. My guess, based on its size, is that this token is early Victorian (c. 1830-40). Ring size is 7. Quite elaborate in design, this little beauty has been lovingly worn. It is a tangible touchstone from the past – an age when grief and remembrances were an integral part of life. A sweet ring for a lady who prefers dainty and delicate jewelry or a trophy awaiting some lucky collector.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Ring is size 7. Oval hair at center is 1/2” high, 3/8” wide. Band at center back is 1/8” wide.



THE ANGEL SLEEPS ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Deceased Baby Portrait Miniature ): This loving and delicate portrait miniature is one of my personal favorites . (c. 1870-80) There is a wistful beauty about this little angel that is very unusual. Usually mourning portraits of babies elicit sadness but this one seems very peaceful and at rest. Only a truly outstanding miniaturist could have done this wonderful hand painted likeness of this sweet infant on porcelain. (There is no signature, nor is there any on the back of the porcelain oval.) The gray background perfectly suits the lace garments. The skin tones of the face and hands still seem to breathe life into this endless sleep. The tiny delicate lips are soft pink. Mounted in a brass frame covered with celluloid, the oil painted miniature is encased in its original worn burgundy case. I hate to part with this very special piece but it is time to find a new loving home for “the last sleep” of this angel. A special addition to any serious mourning collection.

Condition: Portrait is excellent. The case is lovingly worn from time and handling. The clasp is tight.
Size: Miniature is 3” high, 2 1/4” wide. Case is 3 1/2” high, 2 7/8” wide, 1/2” deep.



DEATH WATCH ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Watch Pendant ): I have worn this pendant for about 30 years and it has served well as a decorative piece of Victorian Jewelry even to those who did realize that the “brown design” was really hair! (c. 1870-80) A thick and substantial two-sided mourning piece, this beautifully executed pendant was made to resemble a “watch”, a death symbol dating back to the Middle Ages in Western culture denoting the brevity of life. The watch has glass covered compartments both front and back. The front encloses a crisp palette-work design of hair curls and plumes, while the reverse reveals a photo of young boy. Executed in 14 KT gold, the glass circles are set in a splendid surround of cut out curled scrolls that rise and fall providing an excellent and unusual design element. I had the 14 KT bale set with pearls (representing tears) added to the watch setting some years ago. It now hangs better and will accommodate a good sized chain to match the size of of the watch pendant. A touching tribute to a beloved loss. A true pledge of remembrance that calls from the past.

Condition: Excellent. Two tiny gold loops in hair compartment are loose.
Size: Including bale 3 1/4” high. Watch circumference 2 1/8”, depth 1/2”.



ANGEL OF DEATH ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Figural & Pearl Ring ): It's so hard to part with this superb ring that has been a loving part of my private collection for many years. “A rare anachronistic memorial piece is seen in this outstanding grained material and pearl 18 KT gold memorial ring, which contains some of the memento mori symbols more typical of the Stuart period: the “Angel of Death” with his scythe and hourglass are all symbols from ars moriendi (the art of dying) of the Middle Ages. Here the “Angel of Death” or Grim Reaper as he is more commonly known today, places a wreath of flowers over an obelisk tomb, an unusual action itself for a figure whose role has always been that of a dreaded harbinger foreshadowing death, not as a sympathetic mourner. The ring is inscribed “Henriette Louise, Gebid 12th April: 1761, Gestid 5th Juny 1793” and this ring is probably Alsatian in origin, due to the duel French and German inscription.” (Quoted from the book “Mourning Art & Jewelry” by Maureen DeLorme, pg. 73.) It is hard to show in the photos but the tomb and figure are 3-dimensional. They are placed on a background of Henriette's brown hair. A rare treasure I hope that some special collector will want to own. The pearl “tears” are my own tears as I prepare to part with this incredibly beautiful ring.

Condition: Excellent.
Size: Face 1 1/2” high, 5/8” wide. Band narrows to 1/16” in back. Ring size 6 3/4.



TAKE MY HEART ( Antique Georgian Mourning Jewelry Sepia Painting Pendant ): This Georgian Pendant is special not only because it is over 200 years old (c.1790-1810), but also because it memorializes death so movingly. The scene painted on a navette shaped chip depicts a grief stricken woman in classical dress kneeling beside a plinth with the initials “TAD” engraved on it. She is holding a broken heart in her hand ready to pass it into the flames at the top of the memorial. Above her head is a bird, probably a dove, carrying a laurel wreath in its beak. Beneath the bird you can see a flock of six birds flying toward the scene. Portions of the ground and tree branches are painted with dissolved hair. The image is clear and crisp. This delicate 14 KT rose gold pendant has a double rim of engraved scallops – one of the gold rims is under the glass cover, the other forms the outside frame. Far back in its long history this captivating pin was cleverly converted to to a pendant by attaching a matching rose gold bale at the top.

But O God it must not be
Keep him, keep him still from me
Till Thou will take me up to Thee
To dwell with him Eternally.

Help carry this exquisite loving memory of the past forward in time.

Condition: Excellent. (Chain not included.) There are the usual fine surface scratches from age and loving wear, not visible to the naked eye.
Size: 1 1/2” high, 3/4” wide, 1/8” deep.



A RARE MASTERPIECE ( Antique Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Brooch / Pin ): What a work of art! The Victorian jeweler who designed this beautiful brooch (c 1850-70) was indeed an artist. In the center is a glass covered compartment holding woven hair. In the photo it probably appears grayish brown, but if you look at it with a loop it is actually half golden and half silver colored hair. It reminds me of the hip length hair of my maternal grandmother both of which I adored. The hair is surrounded by 41 seed pearls and they, in turn, are framed by 22 faceted jet stones. They are all set in a 15 KT gold backing. On the back are engraved the initials “AML”. There are three caged dangles of open work hair – all in rarely found perfect condition. The two outer ones are white hair and the center one dark brown hair. It has its original long stemmed pin with a replacement safety clasp. From my personal collection to yours – a stunning example of jewelry as art!

Condition: Excellent. The engraved initials are upside down. Though not visible from the front view due to white cement, one pearl is missing at the 4:00 position. The price reflects this tiny loss.
Size: Oval 1 3/8” wide, 1 1/8” high, 3/8” deep. Including dangles 2” high.



CHANDELIERS FOR YOUR EARS ( Victorian Antique Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): These dainty and delicate Victorian Hair Earrings (c 1850-70) are fancy enough to call tiny chandeliers. They are so lovely that they may be sentimental tokens of love as opposed to mourning remembrances. The four independently swinging and swaying hair dangles are composed of triple lobed drops – more difficult to make then the usual table-worked tear drops. They have 14KT gold cones at the tops and caps at the bottoms. They hang from gold shepherd's hooks – all original. You can tell the the previous owners knew how how special these earrings are – preserving them in perfect condition for 150 years! You can wear them for special occasions and outshine even Scarlett O'Hara – wearing chandeliers as opposed to curtains!

Condition: Excellent. No fraying of hair. The brown hair of each drop is the same color, though some look slightly different in photos.
Size: Total length 2 1/4”, 1” wide. Each drop 1 1/4” long.



THE LAST SLEEP ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Baby Portrait Miniature / Pendant ): Today we may think of a painting or photograph of a baby having entered eternal sleep as somewhat unsettling – or even macabre. Unfortunately, the death of babies was relatively common in the 19th Century and such images were emotionally and psychologically filtered into beautiful remembrances by family members overcome with grief. Up until the mid-1800's only the wealthy could afford such a painted portrait miniature, but the invention of the photograph by Louis Daguerre in 1837, followed by multiple improvements, changed all that. It allowed almost any family to visually immortalize their loved ones who had passed beyond. Photographers of the 19th Century earned a large portion of their income taking posthumous photos. Many went to extraordinary efforts to artistically:

“secure the shadow ere the substance perish
of those for whom we fond emotions cherish”

I am deeply moved as I hold this beautiful antique gold framed hand tinted photograph of some long-ago mother's precious baby (c. 1870-90). In some areas, such as the folds of the lace, one can see brush strokes and that may be an “LS” along the right edge – the artist's initials. Determining the sex of a Victorian child or baby is difficult since both sexes were usually dressed as girls for formal photos. The reverse is covered by magenta file fabric. You can readily appreciate the care given in arranging this serene setting for this baby's “last sleep”.

Condition: Excellent. It can be displayed on a stand or worn as a pendant. The ring bale swivels.
Size: 3 1/4” long including bale. Photo setting 2 5/8” long, 1 7/8” wide, 1/4” deep.



TURQUOISE SENTIMENTAL SURROUND ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry with Turquoise Pin / Brooch ): It is a pleasure to offer you this truly beautiful sentimental Victorian brooch featuring a smooth translucent Chalcedony background stone. (c. 1870-90) Chalcedony is a family of minerals that are milky white to bluish in color. The soft radiance of this stone made it suitable for half-mourning. The use of the delicate turquoise stones and the elaborate lacy setting leads me to call it a Sentimental Brooch rather than Mourning. The scrolled 9KT setting is an unusual design and the 6 claw bezel holders are shaped like dainty shells. The beveled glass center oval contains braided light brown hair with a surround of tiny turquoise stones. Using colored stones was unusual but the touch of color is so feminine. The stones have remained a great match in color. The back retains its original elongated pin stem and C clasp closure. You can see the rivets that hold the hair plaque in place. This is an elegant and showy piece of antique mourning / sentimental jewelry. It seems designed to say “Look at Me”! A pledge of enduring remembrance.

Condition: Excellent. There are some light striations in the chalcedony, but nothing visible to the naked eye.
Size: Medium – 2" wide, 1 3/4” high, 1/4" deep.


BOUQUETS OF LOVE ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): These breathtaking French 18K Rose Gold Victorian pierced earrings are a collectors dream! Amazing skill and artistry went into the creation of these beautiful hair work bouquets of love. (c. 1850-60) Resting on oval plaques of milk glass, brunette pansies and forget-me-nots with long stems and leaves have been painstakingly palette worked in miniature. Perhaps a token of affection rather than mourning, these blossoms symbolize “remembrance” and “love” in the Victorian “Language of Flowers”. The floral stems are so delicate that it seems almost impossible to have been done by human hands. The 18KT rose gold setting is very pink – more than the photos are able to capture. The pierced ear wires are accented with a shell or scallop design (a symbol of one’s “life journey”) from which the articulated glass enclosed earring drops are suspended. The hair work is bezel set high above the frame of etched floral buds that form a cascading crescent at the top of the drop. Three tiers of fine beading surround the oval hair compartments finished off with tiny etched leaves at the bottom. The glass covers on the back contain creamy beige fabric. These covers can be opened if desired. I believe the tiny figure on both sides of the base of both ear wires contains an eagle’s head – the French mark for 18KT. These romantic Antique French Earrings convey their timeless expression of love across the centuries and will become a legacy of love for you to pass on. Museum quality – exceptional examples of the very best of hair work jewelry!

Condition: Excellent. They have been recently polished. One tiny petal is lost. Some water damage to fabric on one earring back.
Size: Oval drops are 1” high, 3/4" wide, 1/4" deep. From top of the shell they hang 1 1/4" long.


TO THY CROSS I CLING ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Cameo Brooch / Pin Pendant ): The subject of this touchingly sentimental hand carved shell Cameo is an “Allegory of Death”. (c. 1850-1880) A grieving woman is portrayed, head bowed with grief, with a cross in her hands as she prays for her departed loved one. The skull at her side is a timely reminder that death is always with us. The depicting of death and grief was a popular theme during the Victorian era. This design harkens back to the old hymn, “Simply to Thy Cross I Cling.” This Cameo carving is bezel set in a frame marked “14KT”, with a C clasp closure that includes an early safety lock and a swivel pendant bale. (Setting is probably c. 1900.) This is a rare, expression of a “Memento Mori”, the timely reminder that “we all must die”. I believe it is signed on the back with either the initials “PM” or “DM”. Mourning collectors covet this Cameo subject and they have become quite scarce. Condition: Very good. Frame is slightly irregular on the left side, probably made to fit the shell edge. There are some striations from a natural drying of the shell, but they are not visible to the naked eye – only in enlargements. Size: 1 ¾” high, 1 ¼” wide, approximately ¼” deep. SOLD!


CRESCENT MOONS ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Earrings ): A photo is better than words in the case of these captivating Victorian 9 KT gold and hair dangle earrings. (c.1850-80) Three elongated tubular table hair dangles are suspended from a crescent moon inlayed with dark brown hair under gold wire twists. There is an engraved design at the tip of each crescent moon. The 3 tubular hair dangles have gold caps at both the top and bottom. The crescent shape hangs from an architectural revival gold circle within a circle decorated with tiny beading around each circle. The shepard’s hook ear wires with clasps are early replacements. These earrings are almost identical to a pair pictured on Page 147 of “The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Hair Jewelry” by Jeanenne Bell. 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. Size: Total length, including ear wire, 2 1/4”, width 1”, depth 1/4”. Center tubular dangle 7/8”. SOLD!
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THE WINGED SOUL DEPARTING ( Victorian Mourning Jewelry Watch Pendant ): This very special Victorian Mourning piece has been in my collection for years.  This beautifully executed, double sided pendant is made to resemble a “watch”, a death symbol dating back to the Middle Ages in Western Culture, denoting the brevity life. (c. 1870) The pendant is encased in beveled double sided celluloid covers, patented in 1868. Each side encloses elaborate varieties of palette work hair with sepia designs. This is the exact mourning piece pictured on Page 96 of Maureen DeLorme’s comprehensive book “Mourning Art and Jewelry”. The side that I refer to as the front is a 3 dimensional mother-of-pearl memorial with two tiny birds at the top – the one in the air represents the winged soul departing, while its mate remains behind to grieve. The milk glass background is hand tinted in delicate shades of sky blue and sunset pink. The reverse side of the pendant “watch” is elaborately designed in plumes and flowers. The 4 initials of the deceased are inscribed in a delicate script using sepia ink. The frame and “watch” top are gold stamped “14D” and there is a hallmark of an animal head. A matchless piece that belongs in a collection of Mourning rarities. Delicate and feminine, you can wear it without fear of damage. The ring at the top is large and will accommodate a chain or a neckwire. Condition: Excellent. One scratch on the front cover, not visible to the naked eye. A minute chip to the celluloid on the back edge (see photo of initials), not visible and only mentioned for accuracy. A word of warning – Do not try to open this locket. The delicate hair work could come loose. Size: 1 1/4” in diameter, 1/4” deep. SOLD!


TREE OF GOLDEN GLORY (Victorian Mourning Jewelry Hair Swivel Brooch / Pin): This is a unique, one-of-a-kind, Victorian Mourning Brooch from my personal collection. (Dated 1861) This exact brooch appears on Page 90 of Maureen DeLorme’s book “Mourning Art & Jewelry”, currently the best source for all things involved with Mourning customs. I quote her description here: “A palette-worked hair “tree” on a milk glass background. This brooch commemorates the death of “Francis S. Crichton” whose birth and death dates, inscribed as “Born 18th May 1840, Died 7th March 1861” appear underneath the beautifully executed hair-work tree. The workmanship on the inscription is similar to the fine engraving of a watch maker and it is possible that this brooch was inscribed by someone in this profession. The tested 14 KT gold brooch swivels and the reverse shows an early photograph of Francis in his well-dressed suit.” The black enamel mount has the words “IN MEMORY OF” and engraved ribbon-like motifs appear at all four compass points. The weeping tree and trunk are made completely of golden hair. The inscribed plaque at the base of the tree has an engraved Forget-Me-Not above the date information. The original C clasp has been replaced with a center closing safety clasp, the original ring for a safety chain remains. This Antique Mourning Brooch is unique in its entirety. The quality is so remarkable that the most sophisticated collector will recognize it as representing the essence of 19th Century. Condition: Excellent. The center closing safety clasp makes wearing it very easy. The swivel turns perfectly. Size: 2 3/8” high, 1 7/8” wide, 3/8” deep. SOLD!

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