The Victorian era includes the eponymous, unusually long reign of Queen Victoria. While various styles such as historicism and art nouveau developed in Europe, today the term “Victorian Style” is used to describe everything in England, Scotland and Ireland with the exception of the so-called "Arts and Crafts Movement" in the period from 1837 to 1901 originated.
The Victorian era can be divided into three stylistic eras:
- Early Victorian (1837 to 1860), which is also known as the romantic period
- Mid-Victorian (1860-1885) also called the Grand Period
- Late Victorian (1885 to 1901), often referred to as the aesthetic period
The design, shape and materials of the pieces of jewelry created in the various phases are closely linked to the personal circumstances of Queen Victoria. Like her beloved husband Albert, she was a great lover of art and culture, and jewelry naturally played a central role in this. The romantic and optimistic mood can also be read from the respective jewelry. Bracelets decorated with engravings, medallions with loving inscriptions or portraits, brooches made of silver with semi-precious stones such as quartz or carnelian, as well as wonderfully shiny necklaces made of yellow gold, set with colored gemstones. Motifs from the Renaissance, the Middle Ages and nature are gladly adapted.
The death of Prince Albert in 1861 deeply affected Queen Victoria, and she withdrew from the public eye for about 20 years. She also wears only black for the rest of her life - mourning jewelry was therefore widespread. In general, the jewelry from this middle period appears "heavy", often set with dark stones made of onyx, amethyst, garnet or jett, a very popular material made from bituminous brown coal (pitch coal), which celebrated its premiere at the London World Fair in 1851.
At the same time, however, the middle Victorian era is due to the growing wealth of the population and the progressive mining of gemstones in the colonies such as India and especially South Africa. Imposing pieces of jewelry were created, and the enormous diamond finds also had an impact on supply and demand: diamonds became cheaper, larger sections of the population could afford corresponding jewelry creations.
In the last phase of the Victorian era, more simplicity in form and material prevailed, the French "Art nouveau" and the German Art Nouveau are unmistakable. Less jewelry was also worn. It should be simple - opals, moonstones and natural pearls were widespread. Popular motifs, for example brooches set with small diamonds, were stars, birds, insects or lizards.