20 March 2014

Suffragette Jewellery: A Mesmerising Aesthetic Legacy

A request for suffragette jewellery has thrown us into a frenzy of activity at Grays and reignited the flame for the particular sensation that gems and jewellery create. Votes for Women, and purple, white and green, are inextricably linked together by this historical and geopolitical moment.

Amethyst, peridot and seed pearl brooch c1910-1915, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

9ct Yellow gold amethyst, peridot & pearl bangle, c1920s. Offered by Westminster Group

Suffragette Brooch, c1910-1914. Offered by Unicorn

Purple, white and green were the colours chosen by Pethick Lawrence for the huge demonstration that took place in Hyde Park, in June 1908, as a symbol of belonging to the movement. The term ‘suffragette’ was first used in a derogatory way by a London Daily Mail journalist for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and in particular for members of the Woman’s Social and Political Union.

The colours were adopted for their symbolic value: ‘Purple, is the royal colour, it stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity; white stands for purity in private and public life, green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring.’ And they were used for banners, flags, rosettes, badges etc. Supporters showed their commitment through accessories and jewellery. Mappin & Webb, issued a catalogue of suffragette jewellery for Christmas 1908.

15ct Gold earrings with peridot, pearl & amethyst, Edwardian. Offered by Westminster Group

Fine gold enamelled asymmetric amethyst diamond and natural pearl pendant. 1890 - 1910. Offered by Rowan & Rowan

Pendant c1910, large faceted amethyst and enamelled in green and white. Offered by Rowan & Rowan

British suffragettes were mostly women from upper and middle class background frustrated by their social and economic situation but their movement quickly gained momentum and was joined by mass groups of men and women across all levels of society.

Tourmaline, peridot, amethyst, pearls and diamonds, emeralds, garnets and green beryl set in gold or silver in traditional late Victorian, Arts and Crafts Movement or Modernist styles, are typical of suffragette jewellery, which is extremely rare and very precious. It holds a special place in the history of antiques jewellery making because of its aesthetic significance and its powerful connection with social history.

In our blog post this week we have brought together several suffragette and suffragette inspired jewellery pieces to welcome Spring.

Child & Child garnet pearl diamond and enamel pendant, c1895. Offered by Havlik Fine Jewels

1930s silver pendant with amethyst & pearl. Offered by Ting's Jewellery Box

French gold and silver brooch, set with diamonds, amethyst, and drop cultured pearls. offered by Nayabelle

Gold and amethyst friendship brooch, Art Nouveau. Offered by Alice Gulessarian

Gold target brooch with diamond. Offered by  Alice Gulessarian

Heart shaped leaf friendship pendant with 3 garnet stones. Offered by Alice Gulessarian

For more information visit www.graysantiques.com
Written by Titika Malkogeorgou

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