Spanning the reign of Queen Victoria of England, who was the preeminent fashion and culture icon of her time, the Victorian Era is one of the preeminent periods of antique jewelry lore. Spearheaded by the first industrial revolution, Queen Victoria ruled over a period of unprecedented growth in Great Britain. As a middle class emerged, women gained further independence, and global exploration became easier, the tastes of this rapidly-developing country followed.
This era was known early on for its light-colored gold jewelry with pearls, amongst other gemstones. Flowers, animals, and other nature-based motifs were abundant. This was the preeminent jewelry style in European culture until her husband, Prince Albert, passed away in 1961. This led a change in Queen Victoria’s style to a mourner’s black, as gothic jewelry became the prominent style. Gold would be plated with black enamel and stones such as black diamonds and onyx became mainstream.
One of the longest eras of antique European jewelry, the eponymously-named period is among the most revered by collectors and historians alike.