Early Victorian Seed Pearl Jewelry
Early Victorian seed pearl jewelry first appeared in the second quarter of the 19th century at the beginning of what is known as the Romantic Period. The Romantic Period refers to the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in England and lasted until the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861. Romantic symbolism was reflected in the jewelry of the period. Seed pearl jewelry was the epitome of this romantic sentiment, reaching the height of popularity between 1840 and 1850 in England and the United States.
Elegant in appearance seed pearl jewelry was associated with pureness and innocence. It was often presented to a girl on her 18th birthday as her first formal piece of jewelry or to a bride before her wedding. Seed pearl jewelry was worn for special occasions throughout her married life as well.
Delicate and quite ornate with scrolled, flower and foliate motifs, seed pearl jewelry was made from hundreds of tiny seed pearls, which came from the Madras region of India or China. Ranging from 1.5 mm to 5 mm in size, the pearls were hand sewn onto a delicate pierced openwork mother-of-pearl frame using white horsehair thread. Silk backing was often used on the reverse of the mother-of-pearl frame.
Seed pearl jewelry was made to be worn in matching sets or parures, consisting of a necklace, bracelets, brooches, and pendant earrings en suite with yellow gold accents and clasps. Seed pearl jewelry is seldom found in excellent condition today because of its delicate and fragile nature, and only rarely are entire sets found intact.
Guide to Pearls
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