When we haven’t been swooning over Rufus Sewell’s world-weary Lord Melbourne or declaring “I am beyond peaches” with the back of our hand pressed melodramatically to our brow a la the wronged and dying Lady Flora, we’ve been star struck by the costumes and jewellery in the ITV mini-series Victoria. The imperious Jenna Coleman carries off tiara after tiara, Star of Empire brooches and gobstopper diamond necklaces with aplomb, not to mention the Imperial State Crown – all 7lbs, 6oz of it.
The Victorians loved jewellery and their eclectic taste at a time of incredible industrial and technological advance means that their treasures are among the most sought after collectors’ items. There was a massive vogue for all things Scottish during Queen Victoria’s reign. Tartan crinolines, Paisley shawls and luckenbooth brooches were all propelled in the the fashion spotlight by the Queen, in much the same way as the Kate Middleton effect works for British designers today.
The cutting and polishing of precious stones improved immeasurably with the new tools and technology of the industrial revolution, not to mention the explosion in design and creativity, exemplified by the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851.
In jewellery, classical designs became popular, boosted by the widespread interest in new archaeological discoveries in Greece, Rome and Egypt. Naturalistic designs, encrusted or enameled gemstone fruit and flowers, were staunch favourites. Botany became popular in the wake of the expansion of Empire and the establishment of botanical gardens across the country and this new interest was reflected in jewellery fashions. The influence of romantic poets, such as Wordsworth and Byron, and of the Preraphaelite artists meant that romantic pieces were also popular.
At Lily Blanche we specialise in taking the best aspects of vintage styles and marrying them with 21st century techniques and design.
A number of our key pieces are based on Victorian designs, such as the Lily Blanche Amethyst Locket, the Vintage Heart Locket and the Memory Keeper Locket, which opens to take six photographs. Our Creative Director Gillian Crawford has a degree in archaeology from Edinburgh University, with a special interest in ancient metallurgy. She has a passion for antique jewellery.
Our favourite resource for studying vintage jewellery is the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. If you haven’t been, do visit. It is a wonderful treasure trove which never fails to inspire us.