The populace is tired of the stiff and brooding decorum of the middle Victorian years and wanted to kick off its heavy trappings. Jewelry is almost completely machine-produced. However, many jewelers bridled under the onslaught of mass produced jewelry and an undercurrent of desire started to harken back to the days of hand fabrication.
The Late Period Notables
Thriving industries created a growing middle class with free time and the entertainment industry boomed. Actors and actresses became the fashion trendsetters.
The automobile is invented and electricity became part of newly constructed buildings.
Women were an integral part of the workforce and enjoyed new- found freedoms in work and leisure-time activities, such as tennis and bicycling. Their active lifestyles were not conducive to the heavy jewelry of The Grand Period. As a result, jewelry became lighter and smaller. Delicate rings, bracelets, and pins replaced the heavy opulence of earlier years.
Jewelry is almost all machine stamped now with little being hand fabricated and manufacture’s hallmarks are being stamped on items.
Brooches have a two-pronged lever clasp or a hinged tube catch. Many brooches feature an attached safety pin.
Common Metals Used – Gold, rolled gold, silver, oxidized silver, platinum, horn
Common Motifs – Etruscan and Egyptian revival, Oriental themes, sporting themes, horseshoes, owls, barrels, animal heads, wishbones, crescents, quatrefoils, trefoils, clovers, knots, bows, double hearts with a crown or knot, oak leaves, stars
The Hot Items
- Small stud earrings
- Heart lockets on bracelets
- Mizpah jewelry emblazoned with the Hebrew word ‘mizpah’ meaning “the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another”
- Diamond solitaire engagement rings, kick started by Tiffany and Co.
- Small brooches often worn in en masse and scattered across necklines
- Stick pins
- Class rings
- Chokers or dog collar style necklaces
- Vinaigrettes – metal containers for scented sponges or spices
Cutting Styles of Gems
- Rose cut – round shape with a domed top and flat bottom
- Old mine cut – rounded square shape with many facets and closely resembles today’s modern round brilliant cut
- Old European cut – a round faceted shape that is a precursor to today’s modern round brilliant cut. It is a bit clunkier than the modern round and is often used in rings dated through the 1900s.
- Cabochon – rounded top and flat bottom
Mizpah jewelry is popular during The Late Period. This ring features the word “mizpah’ in 18k yellow and rose gold. The raised letters in alternating gold colors is unusual and the ring is in good condition and sells for $845 (The Three Graces © Photo courtesy of The Three Graces).
This double heart brooch with a love knot at the top features pave set seed pearls in 15k yellow gold. The seed pearls are well matched, graduated, and in good condition and the entire piece is expertly crafted. It sells for $775 (courtesy of Lang Antiques and photographed by Cole Bybee).
This starburst brooch features a .82 carat fancy yellow diamond surrounded by old mine and rose cut diamonds that total 1.40 carats in an 18k yellow gold mounting. The total carat weight of the diamonds set price in this fine example of the star motif so popular at the time. The brooch sells for $11,850 (The Three Graces © Photo courtesy of The Three Graces).
These crescent and star earrings are indicative of The Late Victorian Period. Each earring features eight old mine cut diamonds for a total of .42 carat. The earrings are 14k yellow gold. The diamonds are well matched and are proportionally graduated and are the main attraction of the earrings (The Three Graces © Photo courtesy of The Three Graces).
This collar style necklace was popular in The Late Victorian Period. Its seventeen inches of silver fits snugly around the throat. The links are hand engraved rather than stamped from a machine. The necklace is an awesome find for this period and sells for $1,475 (courtesy of Lang Antiques and photographed by Cole Bybee).
This locket sports the Oriental motif commonly found in this period. The geometric, checkerboard pattern and the fan with reed and butterfly engravings are Japanese-esque. The locket is silver with yellow and rose gold overlays and is in good condition. (The Three Graces © Photo courtesy of The Three Graces).
This ring shows the open airiness found in jewelry of the late Victorian years as compared to the heavy ornateness of The Grand Period. The navette or oblong design features rubies at each point and old mine cut diamonds aligned in the center and bordering the edges. The center diamond is a fancy yellow color and it weighs .20 carats. The accent diamonds total .45 carats. The ring is 14k rose gold and has intricate metal scallops on each side along with engraving. The ring is in excellent condition and of excellent craftsmanship (The Three Graces © Photo courtesy of The Three Graces).
The Late Period and the entire Victorian Period closed with the death of Queen Victoria. The jewelry of this period is varied and is prevalent in antique stores around the country. Whimsical, imposing, simple, heavy, or light, this period of jewelry design has a style for everyone.