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Characteristics and History of Stunning Victorian Era Jewelry

Victorian Era (1837 – 1901)

Gold leaf engraved ring.

It likely won’t come as a shock that the Victorian Era is named after Queen Victoria, who held the British throne from 1837 to 1901. Because of its length, the era is typically broken up into three periods:

  • The Romantic Period (1837 to 1860)
  • The High Victorian Period (1860 to 1885)
  • The Late Victorian Period (1885 to 1901)

Romantic period Victorian jewelry tends to be 18 karat gold, with lower karat gold jewelry cropping up after 1854.


While portrait of a female on a bronze pendant.

Often when people think of Victorian-era jewelry, cameos are the first thing that comes to mind. A cameo is stone carved so that a silhouette rises out of the stone. While cameos were popular during the era there are lots of other trends that defined Victorian times. Intricate gold designs, draping necklaces, and long elaborate earrings were also very popular. 

Symbolism: Acrostic Jewelry

Some of the most unique pieces from the Victorian era are symbolic and hide secret messages. Acrostic jewelry uses the first letter of each gemstone to spell a word, like a lover’s name or a symbolic message. For example, if you had a ring with lapis lazuli, an opal, vermeil (garnet), and an emerald, in that order, the message would be love.

Mourning Jewelry

Mourning jewelry was also popular and was used as a way to memorialize and remember loved ones who had passed. Mourning jewelry ranged from painted lockets to jewelry that incorporated hair from the deceased. These pieces of jewelry were a way to literally keep loved ones close after death.