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

Queen Victoria took her jewelry obsession to the grave. On her deathbed, she selected stacks…

Queen Victoria took her jewelry obsession to the grave. On her deathbed, she selected stacks of bracelets, levels of necklaces, and rings (just one for just about every finger) for her burial, and the parts she selected included the British monarch’s important mourning jewels, the mementos she commissioned to bear in mind shed beloved types, and passionate items from her husband.

That’s the ability of jewelry. It is often weighed down with a great deal much more than gold and stones it embodies appreciate and reduction and is a tangible memory of a little something valuable. Now, there is renewed curiosity in commemorative jewels—and even a comeback of locks of hair encased in parts. The much more personalized, the improved.

It really is a trend that the jewelry-loving Queen Victoria embraced when she famously turned her loves and tragic losses into jewellery mementos. Identified as the monarch of mourning, she shrouded herself in black garments when her spouse Prince Albert died in 1871, and she commissioned jewelry inscribed with his name and phrases of love and established with locks of his hair, and she did the identical when her daughter Alice died in 1878 at age 35. She also had pieces created to remember delighted events, these as her great really like affair with Prince Albert and births of her young children.

“Jewelry is a wonderful software to rejoice lifestyle and reduction,” states British designer Shaun Leane, who has built numerous sentimental commissions for purchasers and close friends like designer Sarah Burton and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson. Just one of his most considerable pieces was a signet ring created for his shut buddy the designer Alexander McQueen, which he developed in honor of their good friend Isabella Blow who died in 2007. It showcased an engraved quartz stone about glass which encased a lock of Blow’s hair. “Lee (McQueen) wore the ring each and every day,” claims Leane, “and we buried him in that ring.”

A mourning bracelet with plaited hair crafted by Shaun Leane.

Courtesy of Shaun Leane

Around the previous two years, Leane states requests have occur pouring in from close friends and clients who wished sentimental jewelry to rejoice the individuals and animals they misplaced and cherished ones who they couldn’t see owing to COVID limitations. These models ended up motivated by Victorian-period concepts, these types of as locks of hair encased in glass roundels and Latin-inscribed scrolls with hid messages, which he remade in present-day variations. The models are element of his expanded Memoirs selection that will be debuting future calendar year.

Leane is an skilled in the artwork of Victorian-era jewelry. As a youthful apprentice in London’s Hatton Back garden, he specialised in antique restoration and labored on equally sentimental mourning jewels and even before memento mori jewels that showcased macabre symbols of demise, like skeletons and cross bones (memento mori, following all, interprets to a reminder that you will die).

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

Courtesy of Shaun Leane

Leane was schooled in the art of Victorian era hair jewelry, mastering to plait hair especially for the jewellery, and encase it in glass. He’s minimize and plaited the hair of loved ones who have passed away, and also the hair of the young children of many close friends to rejoice their births. He even produced a few bracelets for himself that commemorate his cats, every single with symbols of their personalities and their hair encased in glass roundels.

Hair seems like a macabre material, but it has been utilized in jewellery for hundreds of years. “I’m fascinated by the idea of making use of anything straight from a human being in a piece of jewelry, and the emotion that is carried with it,” he says. “When you keep those people roundels, you sense shut to that particular person. These turn into a person’s most treasured and valued items of jewelry.”

Antique jewellery seller and designer Ashley Zhang was also motivated by Victorian period mourning jewellery for her new selection of symbolic pieces. Following getting rid of her father, she arrived throughout Victorian mourning items that had been so gorgeous they impressed her to develop styles reimagining the classic motifs in stylishly feminine items. These incorporate black and white enamel bands with willow and scroll motifs, and inscribed with individualized names and dates, and pendants with urns and in the form of lilies of the valley, which can be much more delicate symbols of death.

ashley zhang pendant
A pendant created by Ashley Zhang, which attributes an image of an urn.

Ashley Zhang

Which is particularly what Queen Victoria was striving to realize with her very own symbolic commissions—something really and poignant.

Even in death, the British monarch manufactured jewelry trendy and significant. When she handed on January 22, 1901, she was adorned with dozens of jewels and buried with other sentimental mementos, as she had dictated, together with a plaster cast of Prince Albert’s hand, her lace wedding day veil, and a photo of her particular attendant John Brown (who was rumored to be her lover) alongside with a lock of his hair.

She proved you can, in simple fact, choose it with you.

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