Several years ago whilst strolling down Valencia in San Francisco's Mission District, I walked by this little incense and oil shop and noticed a random book in the window. It was called, Jewels: A Secret History, by Victoria Finlay. I have no idea what possessed me to buy this book. I've never read a book like it and I'm not exactly a gemologist (not sure if that is a real word). But you see, I love The Dark Crystal, and Tales of the Crystals, so maybe it was some sort of childhood nostalgia. Anyway, the book is really cool. Each chapter talks about a precious gemstone in terms of the history of it's value. Because of this book, I got a pearl engagement ring and discovered the topic of today's blog post. Victorian Mourning Jewelry, aka, Queen Victoria was the first goth.
When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria's grief was so profound that not only did she have her servants lay out Albert's clothes every morning after his death, but she only wore black until her own death in 1901. Unwittingly, she started the craze for what was popularly dubbed, mourning jewelry. Items such as necklaces, rings, brooches, and bracelets that contained jet were all the rage.
It suddenly makes sense to me why the Victorian time period is usually described as Gothic. Between Edgar Allan Poe, the Bronte Sisters, and Queen Victoria, you've got enough grief and morbidity to keep 200 years of misunderstood youth on trend.