Symbolism of Star & Moon Motifs in Antique Jewelry
Modern day jewelry can feel less meaningful than the intimate designs of the past. Star and moon pieces seem to be all the rage today - but really, celestial jewelry has been “in” for a long time. Have you ever wondered why these pieces are popular other than because they have pretty features?
Jewelry has often held deeper meaning beyond the surface image, its own language of sorts. Sentimental jewelry gained popularity in the 1800’s during the reign of Queen Victoria. From the time she took the throne 1819 (to 1901) until long after her death, her youthful vitality and impeccable fashion sense have been heralded as the creme de la creme. Can you imagine receiving a snake ring as your engagement ring? Well, Queen V received one from Albert - which goes to show how deep the language of jewelry was.
I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again! His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!
Another admirable fact about Victoria was her deep love for her husband, Albert. It is likely that the couple’s deep affection for each other, which was known by the public, had something to do with the sentimentality of the time. Unfortunately, Albert died at the age of 42 and it is well known that Victoria mourned the death of her loved one for the rest of her life which prompted the fashion trend of mourning jewelry (we’ll cover that another time).
"My dreadful and overwhelming calamity gives me so much to do, that I must henceforth merely keep notes of my sad and solitary life."
The crescent moon was widely popular during the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian Eras. The slender moons are said to represent the feminine moon goddess and female empowerment but also they are believed to represent change as a moon has multiple lunar phases. It is important to remember that the Industrial Revolution was happening at this time, and women were beginning to enter the workforce, thus the roots were being laid for modern day female empowerment and rights.
Lang Antiques sums up the feeling of the Victorian era wonderfully:
The years of her [Queen Victoria] reign were some of the most progressive
in our history. Horse-drawn carriages were replaced by automobiles; candles
gave way to electricity, and toilets were brought inside! This was a generally
an optimistic and prosperous time characterized by rapid changes is
industry, science, art and fashion.
Furthermore, it is believed that if a star is accompanying a moon the piece represents “I love you to the moon and back.” Honeymoon brooches were popular accessories for Victorian brides. These brooches featured moons, stars and typically flowers, too. Another belief of stars is that the stars provide guidance to the wearer.
Star and moon pieces are some of our favorite pieces, and are highly sought after. What are some of your favorite pieces? Let us know in the comments about a motif or time period you’d like us to write about next!