Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Something Old, Something Blue: Brooches Given to Queen Victoria’s Bridesmaids

Victoria and Albert, Art and Love
The Royal Collection
At Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert, in 1840, twelve unmarried ladies of noble birth acted as her bridesmaids. Their principal duty was to carry the long train of Victoria’s gown. As is the custom today, Victoria presented her bridesmaids with a gift to express her appreciation and to serve as a keepsake. She chose to present each girl with a jeweled brooch in the form of an eagle.

After the wedding, the bridesmaids, still in their flowing white gowns trimmed with roses, were each presented with a blue velvet box from the jeweler, Charles du Vé (who worked with the Royal Jewelers at Garrards). According to the Queen’s specifications, the brooches were set with stones which were symbolic of the occasion. This was a traditional practice in Victorian jewelry-making where certain stones meant certain things. Each brooch shimmered with turquoise and pearls to represent true love, diamonds to represent eternity and rubies to signify passion.

Thankfully, most of these twelve brooches still survive and are kept in the original families of the young ladies to whom they were presented. At once a sweet souvenir and a striking piece of jewelry, these magnificent pins were truly the gift of royalty.


Java Bean Rush said...

Lovely! I've been brushing up on my Victoria and Albert history lately after having watched YOUNG VICTORIA. Of course the two were notoriously in love, but right down to the symbolic gems on the bridesmaids' gifts....

How wonderful!


Joseph said...

Hello Java Bean Rush. Yes, I agree, "Young Victoria" is a great film. There's just something so enchanting about their love story. For as much as the Victorian era is regarded as sentimental period, the Queen herself was the figure who really set the standard. By all accounts, she was also very thoughtful--as evidenced by these brooches. In my studies of Victoria's life, I've learned to always remember the meanings that are attached to most every object. Thanks for stopping in!