Mourning jewellery has a fascinating history, and it was especially popular during the Victorian era. This style of jewellery was frequently adorned to honour the memory of a cherished one and held in the highest regard for its immense sentimental worth. In the 19th century, it was customary to fashion jewellery pieces that encapsulated the essence of mourning and grief. These pieces were usually made from black materials and were often adorned with intricate designs that reflected the sorrow of the wearer.

Popular Materials Used for Jewelry

One of the most common materials used in Victorian mourning jewellery was jet. Jet is a type of black coal that is formed from ancient, fossilised wood. It is lightweight and easy to work with, which made it an ideal material for creating jewellery. The accessibility of jet was amplified owing to its relatively modest price point, thereby enabling a broader spectrum of individuals to procure these remarkable pieces. Other popular materials for mourning jewellery during this time included black glass, onyx, and black enamel.

The process of working with a jet was quite delicate and required a skilled artisan to produce intricate designs. The jet was first carved into a rough shape using a saw, and then it was filed and sanded to achieve a smooth surface. Afterwards, the jet could be engraved with intricate designs or polished to a high shine. Some jet pieces were also painted with gold or silver to add an extra touch of elegance.


Another popular technique used to create mourning jewellery during the Victorian era was hair work. Hairwork involved weaving strands of hair into intricate patterns and designs that were then encased in a locket or brooch. This technique was highly personal and often involved using the hair of the deceased loved one. Hairwork, a painstaking process that demanded exceptional artisanship, culminated in a truly exquisite and sentimental work of art.


Enamelling was also a popular technique used in the creation of Victorian mourning jewellery. Enamel was a type of glass that was fused onto a metal surface. It was often used to create intricate designs and patterns that were then adorned with black or dark-coloured stones. This technique was highly skilled and required a great deal of precision and patience.

Black enamel was also used to create mourning rings, which were popular during the Victorian era. These rings often featured a central black stone, such as onyx or jet that was surrounded by black enamel. Some mourning rings also featured small seed pearls or diamonds, which added an extra touch of elegance.

Fashion Trends At That Time

In addition to the materials and techniques used in mourning jewellery during the Victorian era, there were also certain fashion trends that were popular during this time. Mourning attire was often black or dark-coloured, and mourning jewellery was designed to complement this sombre fashion statement. Mourning jewellery was also often worn in layers, with multiple pieces worn at once to create a dramatic effect.

Where To Buy Mourning Jewellery Pieces

In Australia, for example, antique jewellery stores often stock Victorian mourning jewellery. Collectors highly covet these pieces, recognising their invaluable worth owing to their profound historical significance and sentimental resonance. Antique jewellery Australia dealers, as well as antique stores all over the world, also often offer restoration services for antique mourning jewellery, ensuring that these beautiful pieces can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Mourning jewellery was a significant part of the Victorian era, and it remains a popular collectible item to this day. The materials and techniques used in the creation of Victorian mourning jewellery were highly skilled and required a great deal of patience and precision. Jet, hairwork, and enamel were all popular materials and techniques used to create these sentimental pieces, and they remain timeless and beautiful today.