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Brooch

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1830-40 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast black glass mounted on gold

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Marguerite Hearst

  • Museum number:

    M.40-1974

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 81, shelf D8, box 1

Jet is the fossilised remains of driftwood. In Britain, the main source is Whitby, in Yorkshire. It became particularly popular in mourning jewellery in the mid 19th century, encouraged by Queen Victoria’s prolonged mourning after the death of her husband Albert in 1861.

Expensive work in black-enamelled gold was made by hand. Jet was much in demand, and the workshops in Whitby, Yorkshire, near the main source of the material, produced articles which often comprised hand-carved details applied to mass-produced bodies turned on lathes.

Mass production methods, and the use of substitute materials, brought mourning jewellery within reach of all but the poorest. This piece is made of 'French jet', executed in cast glass mounted on gilded copper. The glass has been cast with facets, to resemble cut gemstones. A panel on the back holds plaited hair, most likely the hair of a deceased friend or family member.

Physical description

Mock-jet brooch, cast black glass ('French jet') mounted on gilded copper.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1830-40 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Cast black glass mounted on gold

Dimensions

Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 3.6 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Historical context note

The increasing rigidity of mourning conventions during the reign of Queen Victoria gave great encouragement to the manufacture of black jewellery. Expensive work in black-enamelled gold was made by hand. Jet was much in demand, and the workshops in Whitby, Yorkshire, near the main source of the material, produced articles which often comprised hand-carved details applied to mass-produced bodies turned on lathes. Mass production methods, and the use of substitute materials, brought mourning jewellery within reach of all but the poorest. This piece is made of 'French jet', executed in cast glass mounted on metal.

Descriptive line

Brooch, cast black glass imitating jet, mounted on gilded copper. England, 1830-40.

Materials

Glass; Copper alloy

Techniques

Casting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Mourning

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Death

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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