Click to enlarge
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