An Art Deco sapphire and diamond bracelet An Edwardian diamond ring

Early Victorian  1840-1860

With the new found prosperity of the middle classes and the abundance of precious metals and gold from new discoveries in Australia and America the jewellery industry flourished. During this Victorian period jewellery was worn unsparingly and heavily influenced by the tastes and ideals of Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837-1901.

One of the most popular icons of the natural world during the 1840ʼs was the serpent which in mythology represented the link between wisdom and eternity. These designs were often applied with enamel and set with turquoise cabochons and carbuncle garnets which were, amongst others, the favoured gemstones of the period. Organic gems such as coral, pearl and mother-of-pearl were also used at this time to create pieces that were delicate in design.

The fashion of the mid 19th century changed between 1840 and 1850 to very slender waists, fuller skirts and tight bodices which encouraged more imposing corsage ornaments and large brooches. At this time the fashionable hair styles tended to cover the ears which resulted in earrings rarely being worn. Towards the end of this period diamond stars appeared for the first time in the form of tiaras and hair combs.

The attitudes of society had adapted from mourning the dead to sentiments of life and love, friendship and affection. Naturalism flourished in jewellery which took the form of realistic bunches of grapes, bouquets of flowers, leaves and fauna. En tremblant settings were typical of this period as well as diamond spray brooches and hair ornaments that were designed as cascades of precious stones to reflect the naturalism of the pieces.

Importantly two very influential Fine Jewellery houses were founded in the 1850ʼs; Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902) established Tiffany and Co in 1853, followed by Boucheron of Paris in 1858.

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A pair of 19th century diamond pendent earrings A tigers eye, diamond and emerald turtle ring