Leave a comment today and one random winner will receive an autographed copy of WELCOME TO WYOMING!
In my current novel, WELCOME TO WYOMING, both the hero and heroine are jewelry experts, therefore I had to learn a lot about the topic while writing it. Or at least, enough so that the two of them could carry on an intelligent conversation.
First, a bit about the book so you understand where I’m coming from. WELCOME TO WYOMING is an accidental mail-order bride story. Seeking justice for his murdered colleagues, Detective Simon Garr has gone undercover as infamous jewel thief Jarrod Ledbetter. All is going to plan, until he finds out that Jarrod’s mail-order bride, Natasha O’Sullivan, is on her way to Wyoming. Simon can’t afford to jeopardize his cover, and is left with only one option – he must marry the woman!
“Victorian jewelry” refers not only to that produced in England during Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901, but also to the jewelry produced in North America during this time.
Glass or “paste” jewels had been used for centuries in design, and beautifully done in brilliant colors. Some say that glass jewelry got its nickname “paste” because the glass beads were often glued into place, sometimes with colored glues to match. Another theory is that the nickname came about because during creation, glass was molten and extruded like “pasta”.
Shady jewelers might substitute glass or “paste” in one or two pieces of an heirloom set, and this would go undiscovered until the piece was appraised or broken up to create new pieces. Pearl fakes were made of luster-coated glass beads.
One of the ways my heroine detects fake gemstones versus real is using their different thermal properties. When she holds the gemstones against her cheek, they heat up very quickly, indicating fake glass stones, whereas real gems would remain cool.
Low necklines weren’t common during this time except in ball gowns. Therefore Victorians (and Americans) wore high lace collars that fit nicely with the use of pins, brooches, and clips. Or their blouses and jackets were open over a lacy chemisette where they would drape a beautiful, long necklace.
Lockets were romantic and popular. Sometimes they were worn beneath clothing to protect the sentimental keepsake from public eyes. Lockets often contained painted miniatures of a person, or a lock of hair.
Rings were popular, and Queen Victoria sometimes wore one on each finger. Cameos were popular as necklaces, hair ornaments, rings, and bracelets.
The diamond mines of South Africa opened in 1870, and diamonds were then only available to the rich. Only married women and those of a certain age were the ones deemed appropriate wearers of online casino diamonds and gems. Girls and young, unmarried women wore simple items such as crosses, pearls, and chains. Most men didn’t wear much jewelry during this time other than pocket watches, fobs, and lapel pins.
When Queen Victoria lost her beloved husband, Prince Albert, she went into mourning for decades. One unexpected result was that she wore not only black clothing, but she made black jewelry very popular even among those people not in mourning! Her influence reached America. There was an abundance of black materials used, such as Jet, Onyx, and French Jet.
Specific gems had specific meanings. Intimate messages were spelled out in jewelry. For example, the first letter of each gemstone would be used to spell out the message. They might use “P” in pearl, “E” in emerald, “A” in Amethyst, “D” in diamond, and so on. Pieces could spell out words such as Mother, Dear, etc. Several countries practiced this “secret message” technique. I use a similar detail in my novel.
Different symbols meant different things. For example, Ivy=fidelity or marriage, Serpent=eternal love, Daisy=innocence, Mistletoe=kiss, Horseshoe=good luck.
Up until 1854 in England, the legal standards for gold were 18ct and 22ct. After 1854, gold standards were lowered to include 15ct, 12ct, and 9ct. Gold and silver mines discovered in America in the mid-1800s reduced the price of gold and silver, and in many cases, increased the quality.
Are you surprised to learn something about jewelry you didn’t know? Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that means something special to you?
Reference sources: Old Sacramento Living History Museum, Antique Jewelry University