Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Delicate flowers and mystic jet: the highlights of Victoriana

Flowery motifs were popular during the Victorian era and they adorned home utensils, jewellery, wall-papers, furniture, fabrics and stationery. Flowers were important as a romantic gift from a man to his special lady. Flower dictionaries were written so that people could unravel their symbolic meaning, as feelings could not be expressed freely in public. Tussie-Mussies, small bouquets of flowers wrapped in a lace doily and tied with satin, were sent as gifts from men to the object of their affection. These cute bouquets carried secret messages of love or dislike depending on which flowers were chosen, their size and how they were grouped together. Flowers had a silent meaning of their very own, and could convey what was not dared to be spoken. Even the manner in which flowers were sent had a special meaning. A flower exhibited in an upright position meant something positive, while one presented in the opposite direction had a negative meaning. A person could also say "yes" by offering a flower with the right hand, or ‘no’ when presenting it with the left hand. The array of flowery motifs took on various shapes, here are some samples:

Delightful gold and silver Victorian diamond brooch from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian ceramic decorative tiles from Renato

A Victorian silver sugar scuttle from Goldsmith & Perris

A Victorian teapot stand with beaded ormolu trimming from June Victor

Hand embroidered Victorian frame from Sheila Cameron

To contrast the delicate flower motifs, black smooth Jet became increasingly popular during the Victorian period. The colour black has a long held association with mystery as in natural state precious black stones are rare, such as black coral or black opal. Jet objects have been found in burial sites from Bronze Age buttons, studs and necklaces, Roman beads, eardrops, armlets, rings and hairpins, Saxon monastery jewellery, Viking age chess pieces to Medieval ecclesiastical crosses, some of them put on houses to ward off evil. Jet was exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace organised by Prince Albert, and gained popularity as a fashion item. During the reign of Queen Victoria it was stated that only Jet jewellery could be worn at court during the time of official mourning. Thus Jet became the preferred material for mourning jewellery and the Jet industry expanded. Even more so following the death of Victoria's husband Prince Albert in December 1861. Examples of beautiful Jet from our dealers:

Elegant Whitby Jet necklace from Marie Antiques

Striking ornate carved Whitby Jet necklace with carved drop from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian Whitby Jet dual strand necklace with faceted beads from Peter and Naneen Brooks

Victorian Jet trimming accessory or appliqué from June Victor

Find the flowers for your love at Alfies or the Jet jewellery of your dreams at Alfies!

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