Victorian Era Mourners Jewelry

It is no surprise that victorian era mourners jewelry is making a comeback.No surprise at all. Mourners jewelry is a symbol, a way of grieving, a way of mourning people we have loved, who are no longer here. There have been many empty seats at the dinner table the past few years.

The Origins of Mourners Jewelry

It is rumored that the origins of mourners jewelry date back to the 1500s. From ancient civilizations to modern times, mourners have often worn something indicating they are grieving. From ripped black pieces of cloth worn at Jewish funerals to mourners wearing pins and brooches, wearing an object to symbolize grief has waxed, and, waned over time.

Queen Victoria popularized mourners jewelry, and brought it to the forefront, and revived it once again, when her husband Prince Albert died in 1861. Mourners jewelry got a name and became a trend, thanks to Queen Victoria, who popularized it again.

Queen Victoria widowed, wore mourners jewelry for a long time, following Prince Alberts death, and when she lost a couple of children, she wore mourners jewelry for them, as well. 

Recently some of these mourners jewelry pieces sold at auction for over $30,000 a piece. Ah, its good to be the queen! And great to find Grandmas Jewelry at auction, especially when grandma’s jewelry, had belonged to the queen.

What is Mourners Jewelry

Mourners jewelry might be a ring, a bracelet, a brooch worn that is worn during grief to mourn a life. It can be sentimental but that isn’t really mourners jewelry, its sentimental jewelry, and it can be difficult to differentiate. If somebody that you love gave you a piece of jewelry and you wear it to their funeral, its mourners jewelry to you, but not in the truest sense. It’s sentimental jewelry, worn when mourning.



Mourners jewelry in the purest form is dark. It might be black or gray. It might be a cherub, or angel but traditionally it holds a photo of the deceased, or a locket of hair, of the deceased.

Miniature photos became popular in the 1840s, and were easily placed in mourners jewelry to be worn during funeral services, and after. Cutting a lock of hair of the deceased was popular to do and Queen Victoria kept clippings of her deceased children’s hair in mourning lockets, that were either brooches, or necklaces.

The composition of mourners jewelry might be jet, onyx, or iron. Berlin Iron became a common material and as a result seeing a piece with Berlin iron makes it easier to identify as mourners jewelry versus sentimental jewelry.

Typical of Victorian Jewelry, named such because of Queen Victoria, the jewelry often has curvy scrolled designs. Traditional Victorian era jewelry might have a lacy look to it.  Mourners jewelry is no exception. 

The brooches have places to place a photograph.The back of a mourner brooch produced during Queen Victorias time has a pin that extends beyond the brooch shape, and probably a “C” clasp, one of the earliest pin clasps.

Queen Victoria had an impact on the jewelry world in fashion designs, and one of them was her revival of mourning jewelry.

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