Dates 1837 – 1901
No surprise, this era took place during Queen Victoria of England’s reign. Victoria is directly responsible for numerous changes in the styling of jewelry. This era splits into three periods.
- The Romantic Victorian Period: 1837-1860 this type of jewelry was sentimental and reflective of new love. 18K yellow gold was common, but due to gold shortages lower carats and gold plating were common practices. Claw, prong, or bezel settings were most popular. Commonly used gems were, agate, amethyst, chrysoberyl, diamond, emerald, seed pearls, topaz, and turquoise. Typically, in rose cuts, cabochons or old mine cuts.
- The Grand Victorian Period: Also known as the Mid-Victorian 1861-1885. After the fall of Prince Albert and the beginning of the American civil war. Dark, bold pieces were the fashion, after the passing of the prince the whimsical designs ended. Diamonds are more commonly utilized in this time, due to the uncovering of a diamond mine in south Africa. Also, with the help of electricity allowing the diamonds to truly dance. Silver was used to the extreme after its discovery in Nevada. Low carat gold and steel are also used in the manufacturing of jewelry. Settings commonly seen are the Pave style settings along with cabochons embedded with diamonds. In this period, opal, coral and gem simulant or glass became more popular.
- The Aesthetic Victorian Period: 1885-1901 or the Late Victorian. Electricity is being utilized more and more. Allowing pieces from this time to have some mechanically made details, makers marks became more widely used. Woman were more active in this period, working, playing tennis, out in society, etc.… This made jewelry become smaller, daintier, and overall lighter in weight. Machines allowed for pieces to become sleeker and more petit. Gold was still common practice weather it was high or low carat; silver was popular, and platinum slowly began to make its way into the picture. Gems featured in this period that were not in the previous are moonstone, peridot, aquamarine, sapphire, and black glass. The old European cut was introduced.
The Victorian era went from the bold, dark, and chunky aesthetic. To petite, moody with a dash of color. The evolution of this era plays a big role in the further advances in the coming eras.