Victorian Zoomorphic Jewellery; A Steampunk Perspective

Brooch made from gold and a taxidermy hummingbird head.

Brooch made with gold and a taxidermy hummingbird head.

This is one of the less endearing fashion trends of the Victorian era; the use of animal parts to create jewellery. The collection of hummingbirds for their feathers and for taxidermy decoration put some species of hummingbird at risk at the height of the practice. The use of hummingbirds to create fashion accessories is now illegal, and that is okay with me. I find the idea of hunting down tiny birds for ornithological jewellery rather distasteful, as well as the use of other animal parts for ornamentation.

Ruby-topaz hummingbird earrings  after conservation (Photography by Gates Sofer).

Ruby & topaz & gold hummingbird earrings (Photo by Gates Sofer)

 

In the late 19th century, craftsmen in India made Bengal tiger-claw jewelry, like this 22-claw demi-parure, for English tourists. (The Hairpin, via LangAntiques.com)

Tiger Claw Parure 

Parure set consisting of tiara, earrings and necklace mounted with beetle wings, 1884-85

Parure set consisting of tiara, earrings and necklace mounted with beetle wings, circa 1884.

tortoise shell hair comb, circa 1860. Image from Pinterest.

Tortoiseshell hair comb, circa 1860

Victorian-era carved whalebone pen; image from the www.liveauctioneers.com wbsite.

Whalebone pen

 

This is why I prefer modern Steampunk jewellery that uses resin models or metal casts of skulls for ornamentation. I find these items much less creepier and more ecologically sound than the Victorian version.

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Bling, Collectables, Fashion, Jewellery, Steampunk Aesthetic, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Victorian Zoomorphic Jewellery; A Steampunk Perspective

  1. While (hopefully) we wouldn’t do that today. It would be an idea for a character in a fantasy novel in order to show their personality, perhaps? 🙂

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