On Prince Albert's untimely death, Queen Victoria went in mourning for rhe next forty years, and black jewellery became fashionable. One of the most popular materials was Whitby Jet, a fossilized coal found in the area, which could be carved and polished to a high shine. Jealous of this resource, others sought to reproduce the material, and one of the natural ones to hand in Ireland was bog oak, a black-stained fossilized wood. Other materials were French jet - which was black glass - and gutta percha, a cured rubber, but which tended to fade away to gray. This suite consists of an oval brooch, the back section with a carved surround of grapevines, and the centre applied with a nicely carved swan amidst bull-rushes and foliage, and a pair of matching earrings, all made circa 1870. As usual, the brooch has a gilt-metal pin and catch, and the ear-wires are metal, but will be replaced with gold fittings to choice. The brooch is just under 2 inches: 50 mm across, and the earrings, excluding the ear-wires 1 3/4 inches: 45 mm