This massive pool of light pendant dates to the 1880s. Pools of light were made using rock crystal orbs wrapped in gold or silver wire. These jewels were prized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for their ethereal glow, and the distinctive way in which they disperse and reflect light. This particular pool of light is unusual not only for it's large size, but also because it is a piece of mourning jewelry. The substantial, not-quite-round rock crystal is fitted in gold ribbon with the dedication "Edward Marjoribanks b 31st May 1776 d 17th Sep 1868" rendered in black enamel. Marjoribanks amassed a sizable fortune working as a senior partner in Coutts & Co Bank. Edward and his wife, Georgiana, had ten children, their youngest son, Dudley, sat in the House of Commons and was raised to the peerage as Baron Tweedmouth in 1880. This remarkable object was most likely designed to be worn on a fob chain and carried in a pocket, we've hung it on a 19" 15k gold Victorian curb chain to make it into a wearable necklace.
VICTORIAN (1837 - 1901)
The Western world was thoroughly transformed during Queen Victoria’s epically long reign. New technology, urbanization, and industrialization created a middle class flush with disposable income, and for the first time, jewelry was mass-produced to sell to everyone.
The Victorians were avid consumers and novelty-seekers, especially when it came to fashion, and numerous fads came and went throughout the 19th century. In jewelry, whatever fashion choices Queen V. made reverberated throughout the kingdom. The Romantic period reflected the queen’s legendary love for her husband, Albert. Jewelry from this period featured joyful designs like flowers, hearts, and birds, all which often had symbolic meaning. The queen’s betrothal ring was made in the shape of a snake, which stood for love, fidelity, and eternity. The exuberant tone shifted after Prince Albert passed away in 1861, marking the beginning of the Grand Period. Black jewelry became de rigeur as the Queen and her subjects entered “mourning,” which at the time represented not just an emotional state, as we conceive of it today, but a specific manner of conduct and dress. She wore the color black for the remainder of her life, and we see lots of black onyx, enamel, jet, and gutta percha in the jewelry from this time. Finally, during the late Victorian period, which transitioned along with a rapidly changing world into the “Aesthetic Movemement”, there was a return to organic and whimsical motifs: serpents, crescent moons, animals, and Japonaisserie designed for the more liberated “Gibson Girl”.
During the second half of the 19th century, America entered the global jewelry market, with Tiffany and Co. leading the way. Lapidaries continued to perfect their techniques, and the old European cut emerged toward the end of the Victorian period. The discovery of rich diamond mines in South Africa made the colorless stones more accessible than ever before.