Cornelia Ray Hamilton, English jet Mourning necklace, gold Mourning brooch, gold Mourning necklace and locket, heart-shaped diamond brooch, late 19th century, Marni, Rothschild collection, Tiffany brooch, Victorian Mourning jewelry
The prestigious Rothschild collection has lent some outstanding examples of Victorian Mourning jewelry, including a heart-shaped diamond brooch with the words “In Memoriam” spelt out in a display of virtuoso craftsmanship.
A Tiffany brooch from 1868 is unlike anything you can imagine the house producing today, featuring the braided hair of deceased Cornelia Ray Hamilton in an elegant frame of gold and pearls.
A gold Mourning necklace and locket from the late 19th century featuring onyx, seed pearl and hair.
A gold Mourning brooch with the loved one’s initials inscribed in diamonds set in onyx and surrounded by diamonds.
Mourning jewelry included miniature portraits or photographs of the dead often accompanied by motifs of tombstones or clouds, depicting the departed soul’s ascension to heaven.
With its chunky black links, an English jet Mourning necklace on display at The Met could be mistaken for a contemporary Marni creation.
Jet was much loved by the Victorians who considered it one of the few materials suitable for the period of full mourning.
Women were required to follow strict guidelines when it came to what they wore, from their black gowns to their jewelry, which was full of classical and Christian symbols of bereavement. Pictured is a handcrafted gold and onyx Mourning brooch.
Hair was seen as a lasting, personal memento as it could be worked into memorial jewelry using various techniques. Chopped or ground and mixed with a binder, hair could be applied like paint to create designs, elaborately woven into ornate forms, or simply plaited.