Why Victorian? January 18, 2018 – Posted in: Uncategorized
Recently I’ve been enamored with the Victorian era. I’ve collected books of jewelry from that period, and read histories of the era to find out more. Now the jewelry I’m making is influenced by my researching. But lately, I’ve been asking myself, what is so inspiring about Victorian jewelry? I think it’s the way they celebrated sentimentality. I really resonate with it because I think it is needed in our own world which feels ever more impersonal.
The Victorian era was marked by a huge amount of technological change. The world was becoming more and more connected, by the railroads built throughout England, the trade throughout the world, the industrial revolution. As a counterbalance to all the technology, science, and rationality, Victorians needed a way to celebrate emotion and humanity. They expressed this need through their artwork.
Jewelry in particular is well suited to human relationships because it is such a small and intimate medium, and worn on humans. They created new and interesting ways of expressing emotion through jewelry. I think the strangest way emotion took form was though the Victorian hair jewelry made from the hair of dead lovers or relatives. It was woven into elaborate brooches or bracelets so that it hardly resembled hair at all. Another way of celebrating sentimentality was using Jet, a deep black gemstone to create special jewelry worn during the mourning of a dead loved one. On a happier note, travelers started collecting charms from the places they went to remember their trips.
The emphasis on the personal and intimate relationships in Victorian jewelry is just what I want to highlight in my own work. I really like making jewelry because we so rarely get to interact with handmade objects these days. It’s important to me to celebrate humans and what makes us special- our connections to each other. It sounds overly sentimental, and that’s just how I like it!