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VICTORIAN JEWELLERYSparklingconversationMany of you have heard mespeak on Victorian jewellery atlectures and study days. Youhave often asked me if I have written abook on the subject and now finally, Ican answer yes. Jewellery in the Age ofVictoria: A Mirror to the Worldwill bepublished in late April and will revealhow the Victorians used jewellery andwhat it meant to them, both literally andmetaphorically. More than any otherbranch of the applied arts, jewellery inthe period from 1830 to 1901 reflectedthe preoccupations and aspirations of its owners. The book is written jointly withCharlotte Gere, a former colleague andmy main co-author on the catalogue ofthe Hull Grundy Gift of jewellery, andcontains three decades of research,enabling us to offer a new approach. We begin with the life of Queen Victoriaas seen through her jewellery. Herinfluence, not only on her subjects, butacross the world, was colossal. Subsequent themes deal with the roleof jewellery, its relation to dress andfashion, and its hidden messages. Itssignificance to its owners is revealed injewels offered in celebration of eventsVictorian jewellery wasn't just pretty -it also provided an important means of communicating the preoccupations and aspirations of the owner.NADFAS lecturer Judy Rudoetells us about the new book she has co-authored which reveals how pieces from that time could convey humour,scientific achievements or even topical news stories42NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2010www.nadfas.org.ukand intimate friendships, and inkeepsakes for mourning rituals andmemorials to the dead. We have mined the writings of JaneCarlyle, Elizabeth Barrett Browning,Harriet Beecher Stowe, Americanheiresses and many others to bring thesubject to life. Literary analysis revealshow novelists used jewellery to buildcharacter or to add to the plot. Fromfamiliar authors such as George Eliot tothe novelist Charlotte Yonge, who isbarely read today, we have selectedinstances where the implications ofchoices of clothes or jewels would havebeen immediately apparent to theirreaders. Portraits add a furtherdimension: each jewel can be decoded,disclosing a language lost to a modern audience. On an international level, nationalismplayed a huge role in the revival ofhistorical styles, and politics was ever-present. When Queen Victoria visitedNapoleon III and Empress Eugénie inParis in 1855 to see France's firstinternational exhibition in answer toBritain's Great Exhibition of 1851, thetwo royal ladies played out the battle fornational supremacy though theirRight from top:Bee brooch withtwo cravat-pins:one a fly, theother a bee withthe pun 'Don'tbe(e) cross';parure of palepink 'angel's skin'coral c1860-70; brooch in theform of a Zulushield with atrophy of Zuluweapons,JohnBrogden, c1879

VICTORIAN JEWELLERYjewellery: when Eugénie wore the FrenchCrown Jewels, Queen Victoria retaliatedwith the Koh-i-noor diamond. Throughthe great world fairs, we have chartedthe rise and fall of the different countries,as well as the fortunes of famousjewellers - Garrard's, Boucheron,Castellani and Tiffany. The cameo was perhaps the mostpopular Victorian jewel, if the numbersthat turn up in NADFAS study days areanything to go by. But cameos carriedconnotations of education and culture,as did jewels in the archaeological style.The influence of archaeologicaldiscoveries and the collecting ofcameos are all part of the story, alongwith the passion for souvenirs of travel,whether Britons in Britain, Britons andcontinental Europeans abroad, orAmericans in Europe. If this all sounds on the serious side, itmay come as a surprise to learn that theVictorians had a tremendous sense ofhumour. What better dinner party jokethan a cravat-pin with a death's headthat gnashed its teeth and rolled its eyesat the touch of a hidden battery? A newangle on the Victorian love of noveltydemonstrates how jewellery reflectsachievements of science, fascinationwith nature, the impact of topical eventsor popular entertainment. Jewellery formen, a much neglected subject, has asection of its own. Studying the registered designs forpopular jewellery in the National Archivewe were amazed to discover how quicklyjewellers reacted to reports in the press -often within days. When Britain invadedthe Zulu kingdom in South Africa inJanuary 1879, Zulu shields and weaponswere brought back to London. Jewellersimmediately recreated them as brooches,miniature trophies of British victory. Butwe could never have made thesecorrelations without online newspaperarchives, one of the most remarkableadvances of the digital age. SearchingThe Timesonline confirmed time andagain our conviction that jewellery playeda central role in the cultural life of theperiod, but it also made this a differentkind of book - one that we could nothave written 10 years ago. Jewellery in the Age of Victoria: AMirror to the World by Charlotte Gereand Judy Rudoe. British MuseumPress, April 2010, £50 (a special offeris available for members, see page 56)NADFAS BOOKSIGNINGJudy Rudoe willbe introducingthe book at aspecial NADFASevent at theBritish Museumon 21 June2010. For furtherdetails see page 9www.nadfas.org.ukNADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2010 43Left: Pendantwith cobras inthe Egyptiantaste by RobertPhillips, London,c1863Images: © British Museum