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1QUEEN VICTORIA: A LIFE IN JEWELLERY EWELLERYmeant a great deal to Queen Victoria throughout her long life ( 1819- 1901). As a record of significant events, it marked the transition from girl to young queen and from wife to widow; it embodied her adoration of her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe- Coburg- Gotha, in life and in death; it expressed her delight in her children and grandchildren. From the time of her first gifts of jewellery as a young girl and even through her long widowhood she wore fashionable or popular items alongside her state and family jewels. Sentiment, to her, was the most important attribute of jewellery. She made little dis-tinction between state jewels and personal mementoes, and when she came to list the Jewels of the Crown she included both the most precious and those of greatest sentimental signifi-cance. 1 Meticulously engraved on the reverse with donor and occasion, her personal jewels act as a journal of her intimate life during her marriage. 2With the untimely death of her hus-band at only forty- two, Victoria entered her long widowhood, bringing up a family of still- young children without the support of their father and her most valued mentor. Later, as a more remote figure, revered monarch, Queen- Empress and ' Grandmother of Europe', with descen-dants reigning in many European courts, she presided over a vast empire and celebrated two significant new- style jubilees. She was greeted on her jubilee appearances in 1887 and 1897 with wild public enthusiasm, prompting many surveys of the achievements of herself and her people and a consolidation of the ' Victorian' idea. As trophies of state, jewels gave her an aura to match the image of monarchy created by Victoria and Albert. As modest gifts, reflecting her general prudence, jewels encapsulated the latest scientific and technical innovations as well as expressing gratitude, conveying moral and religious messages and a full range of sentimental and intimate meanings. This chapter surveys the role of jewellery in her reign, the fashions set by her example, the gifts given and received as young girl, wife and mother with a large family, widow, grandmother, and in old age, and serves to introduce the themes of the book. The effect on the arts - and in this con-text jewellery - of a fixed and influential figurehead over such a span of time forms the background to this study. The influence of Queen Victoria and her reign New research has demonstrated how Victoria stood at the cultural heart of her reign and how she actively promoted her own image by influencing the media. 3 A modernizing monarch, she contracted a marriage to a highly cultivated husband that produced a perfect partner-ship, domestically and constitutionally. As the mother of nine children - the ' ideal' Victorian family - her circumstances were mirrored across the nation. Victoria herself broke with many age- old traditions at court and the Prince spent an enormous amount of thought and energy - and attracted great unpopularity - in reorganizing the Royal Household. Albert was the Queen's first cousin, and the British royal family had ties of blood with royal families across Previous pages: left, Prince Albert memorial pendant ( see Fig. 32); right, Queen Victoria( see Fig. 17) J