My next event is a pop up shop in Holt, Norfolk from 15th May-23rd May.

The Victorians and their insects!

The Victorians and their insects!

The Victorians were obsessed by the natural world.  Following the drama of the Industrial Revolution, they longed to reconnect with nature, with fossils, rocks, ferns, flowers, shells, butterflies and moths. Prosperous families’ parlours were filled with collections of all kinds, such as butterflies under glass domes, wooden cabinets of shells and coral, and cases of stuffed animals.  Whilst I'm not about to reveal that I have a living room packed with that sort of paraphernalia, I do love looking at how the Victorians showed their love for nature in their jewellery.

It was a very sentimental time. The Victorians loved to give and receive jewellery; it was deeply meaningful to them. It’s well-known that theyattributed flowers to a person's birth month, each flower chosen for their sweet and positive floral meanings, but they also found symbolism in the insect world. The Victorians believed that butterflies represented the soul and although a delicate butterfly was the perfect accessory for a romantically minded Victorian lady, they didn't just want jewellery  which was pretty, they loved beetles, bees, spiders and other creepy-crawlies too.

Each represented something important – beetles were associated with long life, bees with working hard, and spiders with skill and perseverance.  Even insects that nowadays we might consider repulsive, such as flies, were incorporated into fashionable pieces – flies represented humility.

In a world dominated by mass-produced goods, Victorian insect jewellery stood for the importance of something handmade and the appeal of nature-inspired jewellery was strong.

There has been a resurgence in insect jewellery, in fact I am not sure we will ever leave it behind. Beyonce had a beautiful butterfly ring designed for her in 2014 and the addition of a tiny spring made the butterfly tremble when she moved so that it had the appearance of being about to take off. Have a look at it above, even if you wouldn't wear it, the beauty of it is just incredible.  Can you also remember the spider brooch worn by Baroness Hale (one of Britain's most senior judges)? She wore it to deliver the Supreme Court's ruling on whether Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament, and then there was a lot of speculation about why she wore it and whether there was an underlying meaning, she says not.

Victorian jewellers were also master craftspeople. Their attention to detail was meticulous and their use of intricate filigree, precious metals, gemstones, enamel required extraordinary skill and versatility. Their style ethic was a blend of elegance and romance, with the tiniest detailing. They drew inspiration from the graceful curves of Art Nouveau pieces and these choices allow jewellery to complement a wide range of styles, from vintage-inspired looks to contemporary fashion. Whether it was a token of love, a symbol of remembrance, or an expression of social status, Victorian jewellery held profound significance for their wearers. The sentimental value attached to Victorian jewellery has ensured that it represents cherished family heirlooms passed down through generations.

Lastly it is the storytelling in Victorian jewellery which fascinates me. Often it carries stories of love, loss, triumph, and tragedy. Whether it's a mourning brooch containing a lock of hair or a sentimental locket holding a miniature portrait, each piece has a narrative to tell. I firmly believe that nearly every piece of jewellery in your jewellery box represents an emotional connection between you and the jewel, where you bought it, who gave it to you, why you chose it. It is virtually impossible to separate the meaning and the piece of pretty jewellery and I think that's the biggest thing I have taken away from Victorian jewellery. Just take a look at my bee jewellery and my coastal jewellery, whether its the inspiration for the first beach bangle (the Holkham one) or the coastal botanics rings, they reflect the natural world and I'm just about to add some new pieces to my Pocket Treasures Collection as a homage to the style and beauty of my relatives.

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