Victorian Era - Misc Notes on Jewelry

Cairngorm In the late 1800's, Darwin's controversial theories on evolution and new botanical discoveries created a demand for jewelry made to look like animals or insects. Ladies would secure pieces of lace to their ensemble with a multitude of these small pins made to look like butterflies, houseflies, beetles, etc. Animal designs, for instance, monkeys or peacocks were fashioned into jewels. The 19th Century Scottish brooches incorporate the foot of the grouse (a game bird) set into gold or silver. Some were set with Cairgorm's. This stone is most commonly a tea colored "Cairngorm" which is a quartz found in the Highlands. Authentic Cairngorms are no longer available and citrine or smoky quartz are substituted.

Queen Victoria loved Scotland and all things Scottish. Her pride in her Stuart ancestry and the popularity of Sir Walter Scott's novels made Scottish jewelry a fashionable accessory. The most popular stone, by far, was the Cairngorm and was often incorrectly called smokey topaz or Scotch topaz. Scottish jewelry was popular throughout England until the death of Albert in 1861.

These Ptarmigan Claws were often worn with tartans, often on hats or scarves. They were worn by men and women.

The 19th Century was a mixture of previous styles: Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque, Greek and Etruscan designs. Pinchbeck (1860's) had been used as a substitute for gold; an electroplating process for coating base metal with silver or gold. Pinchbeck therefore allowed the common people the ability to enjoy gold items for the first time. The invention of the pin-making machine, in 1832 brought about a myriad of devised to secure head and body attire. By 1850 the simple brooch was executed in precious metals and encrusted with gems and gemstones; by the 1880's, there was a beginning emphasis on "non-precious" gems such as topaz, amethyst and coral. 1849 the discovery of gold and silver in America was followed two years later by the discovery of Austrialian Gold. By 1896 there were already 1,800 TradeMarks of various jewelry manufacturers with established centers in Providence, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Newark.

EDWARDIAN ERA - 1901 to 1910. This was an opulent era in England named after Queen Victoria's eldest son, Edward. Both Edward and his wife Alexandra, created an atmosphere of glitter and sparkle which fascinated the public. In Europe, people loved to dress in lavish evening wear and attend the theater. During this time in America, "Vaudeville" was popular. Charles Dana Gibson, the American cartoonist, a few years earlier had drawn what he thought the ideal woman - the "Gibson Girl". Of course, millions of women wanted to emulate the look with high coiffures, plunging necklines and the corseted waistline. They also wore tailored men's style suits as well as gorgeous tea and evening gowns. Jet was still in fashion and the beads were often worn with crystals, silver, gold and even steel. Alexandra popularized the use of chatelaines which had gone out of style in 1860s when she began using them herself in the 1890's. Around 1900, the lavaliere became popular and in style. At this same time there were close to 1000 department stores in America. Catalogs came from all over American and Europe where women could purchase Paris fashions from here in America and Oriental fashions in England. Two most common catalogs of the era were Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward which started out with only a few pages in the late 19th century to a few hundred by the early 20th century.

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