Victorian Gold and Woven Hair Pendant Earrings

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Pair of 18k gold and woven hair pendant earrings. These earrings appear in our Victorian hair jewelry video on our videos page.

English, ca. 1870.

Length: 2 1/4 inches


This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

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Tags: gold hair Victorian

Victorian Hair Pendant Earrings


18k gold and two-color woven hair pendant earrings.

English, ca. 1870
Length: 2 5/8 inches


These earrings appear in our Victorian hair jewelry video on our videos page.

Model wearing Victorian Hair Pendant Earringsother view, Victorian Hair Pendant Earrings

Antique Diamond Sunburst Brooch


Diamond sunburst brooch set in gold and platinum centering an old European-cut diamond weighing approx. 6.25 cts., the smaller old European- and old mine-cut diamonds weighing a total approx. weight of 15 cts.

Howard & Co., New York, ca. 1905. With original case and tremblant hair fitting.
Diameter: 2 1/2 in.

Antique Diamond Sunburst Brooch on black backgroundback view, Antique Diamond Sunburst BroochAntique Diamond Sunburst Brooch in original box

ALVR Blog: A Shakespearean Star (Ruby)


While we cannot enjoy the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park this year, for your viewing pleasure we are pleased to present a production of our own: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring July’s birthstone: ruby!

main view, Gold Midsummer Night's Dream Tiffany Brooch with Star Ruby

This Art Nouveau brooch by Tiffany & Co. takes inspiration from one of Shakespeare’s most famous works. The turn-of-the-twentieth-century movement focused on using new, freer forms of expression in an effort to break away from nineteenth-century historicism. Stylistic characteristics included nature, fantasy, curving lines, and female figures. A sinuous form surrounded by winged insects, a dragonfly and moth, and the brooch’s fantasy theme are quintessentially Art Nouveau. In the United States, Tiffany & Co. was the foremost company producing not only jewelry but also decorative art works in the Art Nouveau style. It is only fitting that an early Tiffany Art Nouveau piece would take inspiration from the fairy realm of a Shakespearean play.

The brooch features a 5.84-carat oval cabochon star ruby – referring to the six-pointed star visible within the stone. The use of such a stone in this design is particularly clever, with the lines of the asterism emphasizing the gold spider web surrounding it. The asterism gives the stone a magical, otherworldly quality, an enchanting phenomenon that inspires The Bard in all of us.

Tiffany Midsummer Night's Dream Brooch, ruby

In gemology history and lore, ruby is considered the king of precious gems, a title coming from the Sanskrit word, “ratnaraj.” The stone’s rarity and hardness (second to diamond) befit this title. Ruby was also valued for its perceived powers, like curing inflammatory diseases, predicting misfortune, soothing anger, and bringing success in love.

As a symbol of passion and power, ruby is an appropriate choice for a jewel inspired by one of literature’s most famous marital quarrels. To recap, Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, are estranged because Titania refuses to give Oberon her Indian changeling. Oberon retaliates by calling upon the fairy Puck to help him create a potion from a flower called “love in idleness.” When the concoction is applied to a sleeping person’s eyelids, they fall in love with the first living creature they see upon awakening.

“Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew’d thee once:
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.”

Oberon hopes Titania will fall in love with an animal so he can shame her into giving up her changeling. The brooch depicts this moment of enchantment, when Oberon applies the potion to Titania’s sleeping eyelids and says:

“What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take,
Love and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wakest, it is thy dear:
Wake when some vile thing is near.”

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Diamond Flower Jewelry in Eternal Bloom


Naturalism bloomed in the nineteenth century. Fashionable ladies adorned themselves with elaborate floral jewels like these rose and peony brooches and cornflower hair ornament. The period’s fascination with flora developed into the Victorian language of flowers, which was used to express a range of sentiments. Each of the following jewels has a different meaning and depicts a different stage of blooming, demonstrating the romantic interest in lifecycles:

The rose about to blossom,

diamond rose brooch

Diamond brooch in the form of a rose, set in gold and silver. English, ca. 1860.

Roses have many meanings depending on their color, but primarily express love. For example, tea rose symbolizes love remembered, pink rose represents secret love, and a white rose signifies innocence.

The peony in full bloom,

diamond peony brooch

Tremblant old-mine diamond peony spray brooch mounted in silver and gold. The brooch was possibly made by an English jeweler for the Russian court, circa 1860.

In the language of flowers, peonies symbolize bashfulness, compassion, and happy marriages.

The cornflower, with its cascading, en pempille, petals, on the verge of decay:

diamond cornflower hair ornament

Diamond cornflower hair ornament, set en tremblant, and mounted in silver and gold. French, attributed to Oscar Massin, circa 1850.

The en pempille technique, referring to the cascading stones, combined with the springs of the en tremblant setting, enhances the sense of delicacy and refinement the Victorians expressed through cornflowers in their floral language.

Each of these is a unique example of how master craftsman imitated nature in jewelry. Often set en tremblant, floral-themed jewelry sprang to life, with diamonds sparkling like dew drops, creating a playful rendering of nature out of nature’s materials.

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Symbols of Love in Antique Jewelry

Antique Jewelry

Gifts of jewelry as tokens of affection date from ancient times, featuring design trends like cupid, clasped hands, lover’s knots, mottoes, and hearts.

The heart symbol has been a consistent representation of love. Mythologists surmise it evolved from the ivy leaf, an ancient symbol of immortality. It was a common wedding gift in ancient Greece, and came to represent friendship and fidelity due to its snuggling and nestling characteristics and year-round greenness.

Certain historical symbols of love seem quite strange to modern eyes. For example, the use of hair in sentimental jewelry was quite popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hair was woven into jewelry, or hidden in lockets and underneath portrait miniatures of loved ones.

Some pieces of nineteenth-century jewelry contained messages through the ‘language of stones,’ where stones were arranged so that the first letter of each one revealed a hidden message. A later example of the mystery in sentimental pieces is our Naval Signal Flag Bracelet, spelling out “ I Love You.” In case that wasn’t cute enough, the gold links are kissing seahorses, another symbol of commitment as they mate for life.

These symbols of love have stood the test of time, just like antique jewelry. Our collection includes hearts, bows (if you are about to “tie the knot”), or you might choose something unconventional to imply your own hidden message. Whichever you choose, it will be timeless; after all, diamonds are not the only things that last forever.

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Ancient Jewelry


Ancient jewelry used high karat gold, softer than 18K or 14K and easier to manipulate with crude tools.  Beads, crudely cut semi-precious stones and intaglios were often used in combination with gold.  Shapes were simple.  Animal forms, mythical gods and creatures were popular themes.  Pieces also often served a function, such as holding clothing together or pinning hair.  Many pieces were also often used for burial rites.

Victorian Jewelry (1837 – 1901)


Victorian jewelry was produced in England around the time of the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837 to 1901.The term is quite broad and includes many different styles and influences.

Victorian times are generally known to be a time of sentimentality and rigid social formalities. Thus, self-adornment with jewelry was often wrought with meaning and secret messages, e.g. eye jewelry, hair jewelry, memento mori, lockets, portraits, etc. At this time many of the revival movements took hold inspired by archaeological discoveries and a sense of sentimentality towards the past. Jewelers such as Giuliano, Castellani and Falize each became known for revival styles and are extremely collectible today.

Victorian jewelry is characterized by the use of old-mine-cut diamonds, rose-cut diamonds, sapphires, rubies, demantoid (green) garnets, enamel, jet, hair, agates, lava, and cameos, set in 15K or 18K gold or a combination of silver and gold.

The period’s main themes and inspiration were animals, insects, flora & fauna, and historicism.