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History Of Mourning Jewellery

Mourning Jewellery.Perhaps nowadays we find it hard to understand the connection between death and mourning jewellery that the Victorians used to have.Their view being that death was very much a part of life.But then even as late as the 1800s life expectancy was only forty seven years, whereas today we are all told we are living much longer all of the time due to  better food and lifestyles.

The mourning period for the Victorians was very strict,adhering  to no less than two years of strict mourning.Wearing a black veil anda black dress for one year and one day. But a piece of mourning jewellery would be acceptable.After the first year of mourning you would be allowed to wear a little colour say a small amount of lace trim.Queen Victoria was an important influence in society and when her beloved Albert died she went into a long phase of mourning from which she never fully recovered. Even keeping a cast of her husbands hand on his pillow as a constant reminder.Queen Victoria also brought about the popularity of mourning jewellery and was known to wear Whitby Jet.This is a very light materialbut very hard and was carved into many different designs found in Whitby and still found and made into jewellery today.There were many workshops in the area around 1800/1900s making whitby jet jewellery from which a  good living could be made.Mourning jewellery took many forms from rings and lockets to bracelets or even earrings.Lockets or brooches would sometimes incorporate a beautifully crafted piece of hair behind the glass.Hair jewellery was a common form of mourning jewellery to keep a memory of a loved one.But hair jewellery has been associated with love and death for centuries.Black enamel and small split or half cut pearls were used together in some mourning jewellery.Along with old cut diamonds and pearls the meaning being “I shall shed tears for you forever”. Many Georgian pieces of mourning jewellery had an ivory painted panel with the depiction of an urn,tomb, a weeping lady or sometimes an eye with a tear!.Morning jewellery stills finds very good prices at auction especially the more unusual pieces.But smaller brooches can be found if you wish to begin a collection a modest brooch could be found for roughly £60.Obviously depending on the setting and the use of precious or semi-precious stones.

A super Regency mourning ring has gone under the hammer at Dukes Auctioneers in Dorchester,Dorset .What a sensational item of mourning jewellery.The embellished ring commemorated the death of Sir William Fawcett a favourite friend of King George the Third.Fashioned in gold it has a design of an urn with a  teardrop shaped rock crystal in the centre. The urn being a popular symobol in morning jewellery.It is over 3cms in length,which is a rarity in itself as it would cover most of the finger.Probably this piece was made for Sir Williams Fawcett’s wife who died just one year after himself.A wonderful ring like this does not come up for sale frequently it is a real showstopper and the estimate a mere £600-£1,200.It did reach far in excess of the expected reserve figure.Whoever purchased this has bought a beautiful item.