Locket thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125b

Locket

1871 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Lockets, such as this superb quality mourning locket, were at the height of their popularity from the 1860s to the 1880s. They were even described as 'indispensable' in magazines in 1870 and 1871. They could commemorate a wedding as well as a death: in March 1871 Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise (1848-1939) gave a locket to each of her attendants at her wedding. E.W. Streeter, a leading London jeweller, offered a discount of ten per cent on bridesmaids' lockets when ordered in multiples of six.

Materials & Making
Onyx stained black was, like jet, bog oak and black enamel, an appropriate material for mourning jewellery. The black and white bands of the onyx of the locket have been cut so that a white oval frames the diamond-set initials.

Ownership & Use
Onyx mourning jewels found favour in the highest circles. In March 1861 Queen Victoria ordered a number on the death of her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent (1786-1861), and more after Prince Albert's death in December 1861. In 1872, to commemorate her half-sister, Feodora, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, she gave a banded black and white onyx mourning locket to one of her granddaughters.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, onyx and diamonds set in silver, with glazed interior compartments containing hair
Brief Description
Mourning Jewellery
Dimensions
  • Height: 5.3cm
  • Width: 3.5cm
  • Depth: 1.6cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 10/12/1998 by sf
Marks and Inscriptions
Set with diamond monogram 'JE' and 'EE'; inscribed around the frames of the hair compartments '+Jarvis Empson, born June 28th.1793, died March 28th.1871' and '+Elizth. Empson, born 17th. April 1784, died July 24th.1867'
Gallery Label
British Galleries: MOURNING JEWELLERY
The strict observance of mourning during the reign of Queen Victoria led to an increased demand for black jewellery. The most expensive items were made of onyx or enamelled gold, but there was also a large market for cheaper jewellery made of jet, bog oak and glass. Lockets or brooches often contained hair from the deceased.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Monica Casswell, in loving memory of her husband, Thomas
Object history
Made in Britain
Summary
Object Type
Lockets, such as this superb quality mourning locket, were at the height of their popularity from the 1860s to the 1880s. They were even described as 'indispensable' in magazines in 1870 and 1871. They could commemorate a wedding as well as a death: in March 1871 Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise (1848-1939) gave a locket to each of her attendants at her wedding. E.W. Streeter, a leading London jeweller, offered a discount of ten per cent on bridesmaids' lockets when ordered in multiples of six.

Materials & Making
Onyx stained black was, like jet, bog oak and black enamel, an appropriate material for mourning jewellery. The black and white bands of the onyx of the locket have been cut so that a white oval frames the diamond-set initials.

Ownership & Use
Onyx mourning jewels found favour in the highest circles. In March 1861 Queen Victoria ordered a number on the death of her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent (1786-1861), and more after Prince Albert's death in December 1861. In 1872, to commemorate her half-sister, Feodora, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, she gave a banded black and white onyx mourning locket to one of her granddaughters.
Collection
Accession Number
M.28-1991

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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