picture of Victorian jewellery spans the whole spectrum from the diamond- set Crown Jewels to earrings set with babies' teeth and the Scottish pebbles treasured by Victoria through their association with her husband and her beloved Balmoral estate. With the notable exception of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who married the Prince of Wales in 1863, the Victorian royal family has been dismissed in terms of fashion. Studies of royal jewellery tend to focus on the celebrated treasures of the Crown, the famous diamonds and suites of precious jew-ellery worn by Victoria and her successors on ceremonial occasions. However, the ledgers present a different story, with the royal family leading the way in popularizing jewellery and fashionable accessories at every level. 11Many typically ' Victorian' jewellery types originated in royal circles. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the royal ledgers chart national progress in the arts, nonetheless the silver and jewellery reflect an aspect of the profoundly serious Victorian attitude to culture. Examination of royal purchases reveals that they were partly motivated by concern for native industrial prosperity and commerce. This tendency probably reflects the Queen's patri-otic and sentimental character and her obsession with associations. It raises the question as to whether royal example affected choices made by the general public, particularly in the case of the ' Celtic fringe', where she actively promoted national and traditional Scottish and Irish ornaments. Victoria's interest in revivalist styles embraced English discoveries in ancient Assyria ( Chapter 8) and the English historical revival in the shape of ' Holbeinesque' jew-ellery. The distinctive ' Elizabethan' or ' Holbein' jewel type was employed in royal circles in the early 1840s ( p. 345). Royal taste in exotic jewels embraced British- ruled India and the expanding empire, but not Persia, China or Japan, apparent confirmation of the patriotic character of her patronage. When Prince Albert received a deputation of Birmingham jew-ellers in a time of recession in 1845 he expressed surprise ' that fashion could perversely persist in going abroad for articles of bijouteriewhen it could command so admirable and exquisite a manufacture of them at home'. 12Royal example could - and often did - reinvig-orate a failing trade; credit for reviving the use of tortoiseshell went to the Queen: Fashion, however, makes a great difference in the consumption of this shell. I was a few years ago at a comb manufactory in Sheffield, where I was informed that an unusual amount of activity was going on after years of depression. On enquiring the cause, I learned that her Majesty had visited the opera with a Jenny Lind comb in her hair, and this had made all the difference between almost starvation and a state of great prosperity to the poor combmakers of Sheffield. 13 Since many of the orders fulfilled by the Crown Jeweller were for presents, royal taste was promoted widely, in court circles in Britain and on the Continent. Royal gifts were matched by official presentations, all duly reported in the press. The great industrialized cities threw up a civic aristocracy that shared royal attitudes to jewellery and its public function; civic offerings to royal brides and at the Queen's two jubilees significantly augmented the Crown Jewels. Royal wedding presents were publicly exhibited and reported in detail, particularly the jewels. Both the Illustrated London Newsand The Graphicissued wedding supplements, fully illustrated, and these were copied abroad, notably in the USA. Victoria was an acute observer and indefatigable diarist and letter- writer. Her taste 16QUEEN VICTORIA: A LIFE IN JEWELLERY
was formed in childhood by her passion for the theatre, opera and ballet. Her love of strong colours and floral trimmings was remarked on, usually disparagingly, by many observers. Although she was indifferent to fashion ( she deplored crinolines, which she attempted to ban at court), she was very interested in clothes and jewellery - her own in an objective but uncritical way and other people's with a reporter's eye for telling detail. Her comments in her Journal reveal her own views about social usage, and provide a contrast with the alter-native story derived from fashion journalism and advertising. Many thousands of guests were received at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and displays of her dresses were put on by Madame Tussaud; through these means a court style percolated out into the wider mar-ket for precious ornaments and accessories. Victoria broke new ground as a role model for her ordinary subjects. Her passage through the rites of marriage, childbirth, widowhood and mourning brought empathy and moral weight to her position. The fact that her personal and domestic circumstances so closely matched those of her subjects had an impact on jewellery and popular taste in general. Lord Salisbury, one of her Prime Ministers, summed up the situation: 1 Above left Brooch with drop- shaped pendant and long earrings. English, about 1835- 40. H. of brooch 6.6 cm. London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Joicey Bequest This stamped gold jewellery set with cabochon garnets, typical of the date, closely resembles that worn by Victoria in Fig. 2. 2 Above Victoria( Alexandrina Victoria, 1819- 1901). Colour lithograph after Richard James Lane ( 1800- 72), from La Perle, Paris, 1838. British Museum The young Queen wears a ferronnièrewith a set of garnet brooch and long earrings. The ribbon of the Order of the Garter has been erroneously coloured in red instead of blue. If the rest of the colouring of this French version of the print is to be relied upon, Victoria chose to wear the national colours of red, white and blue.