Queen Victoria’s Appreciate of Jewels Went With Her to the Grave

Queen Victoria took her jewelry obsession to the grave. On her deathbed, she chosen stacks of bracelets, layers of necklaces, and rings (1 for every single finger) for her burial, and the pieces she selected incorporated the British monarch’s precious mourning jewels, the mementos she commissioned to don’t forget lost liked kinds, and passionate parts from her spouse.

Which is the electricity of jewellery. It’s frequently weighed down with considerably a lot more than gold and stones it embodies love and loss and is a tangible memory of a little something precious. Now, there is renewed desire in commemorative jewels—and even a comeback of locks of hair encased in pieces. The far more particular, the much better.

It really is a development that the jewellery-loving Queen Victoria embraced when she famously turned her loves and tragic losses into jewellery mementos. Recognised as the monarch of mourning, she shrouded herself in black garments when her spouse Prince Albert died in 1871, and she commissioned jewellery inscribed with his name and words of like and established with locks of his hair, and she did the similar when her daughter Alice died in 1878 at age 35. She also experienced items built to remember happy occasions, these as her great enjoy affair with Prince Albert and births of her small children.

“Jewelry is a gorgeous tool to rejoice life and reduction,” states British designer Shaun Leane, who has manufactured plenty of sentimental commissions for clientele and pals together with designer Sarah Burton and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson. One of his most considerable pieces was a signet ring manufactured for his close good friend the designer Alexander McQueen, which he designed in honor of their close friend Isabella Blow who died in 2007. It showcased an engraved quartz stone above glass which encased a lock of Blow’s hair. “Lee (McQueen) wore the ring each individual day,” claims Leane, “and we buried him in that ring.”

A mourning bracelet with plaited hair crafted by Shaun Leane.

Courtesy of Shaun Leane

Above the previous two yrs, Leane suggests requests have arrive pouring in from good friends and consumers who desired sentimental jewellery to celebrate the men and women and pets they lost and liked ones who they could not see because of to COVID restrictions. These designs have been inspired by Victorian-period concepts, these kinds of as locks of hair encased in glass roundels and Latin-inscribed scrolls with hid messages, which he remade in modern day styles. The designs are portion of his expanded Memoirs collection that will be debuting up coming 12 months.

Leane is an qualified in the artwork of Victorian-era jewellery. As a younger apprentice in London’s Hatton Yard, he specialised in antique restoration and labored on equally sentimental mourning jewels and even previously memento mori jewels that highlighted macabre symbols of dying, like skeletons and cross bones (memento mori, following all, translates to a reminder that you will die).

shaun leane pendant
A pendant by Shaun Leane featuring plaited hair.

Courtesy of Shaun Leane

Leane was schooled in the artwork of Victorian period hair jewellery, mastering to plait hair exclusively for the jewelry, and encase it in glass. He’s minimize and plaited the hair of cherished kinds who have handed absent, and also the hair of the kids of many mates to celebrate their births. He even created a few bracelets for himself that commemorate his cats, every with symbols of their personalities and their hair encased in glass roundels.

Hair sounds like a macabre materials, but it has been employed in jewelry for generations. “I’m fascinated by the notion of making use of a thing immediately from a human being in a piece of jewellery, and the emotion that is carried with it,” he states. “When you keep those roundels, you sense near to that individual. These develop into a person’s most treasured and valued pieces of jewelry.”

Antique jewellery seller and designer Ashley Zhang was also determined by Victorian era mourning jewellery for her new selection of symbolic parts. Immediately after getting rid of her father, she arrived throughout Victorian mourning parts that have been so stunning they motivated her to create models reimagining the common motifs in stylishly female items. These contain black and white enamel bands with willow and scroll motifs, and inscribed with individualized names and dates, and pendants with urns and in the shape of lilies of the valley, which can be far more delicate symbols of dying.

ashley zhang pendant
A pendant intended by Ashley Zhang, which features an image of an urn.

Ashley Zhang

Which is precisely what Queen Victoria was striving to achieve with her individual symbolic commissions—something quite and poignant.

Even in death, the British monarch made jewelry stylish and meaningful. When she passed on January 22, 1901, she was adorned with dozens of jewels and buried with other sentimental mementos, as she had dictated, including a plaster forged of Prince Albert’s hand, her lace wedding day veil, and a image of her own attendant John Brown (who was rumored to be her lover) alongside with a lock of his hair.

She proved you can, in fact, get it with you.

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