When Queen Victoria's beloved husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, Victoria (and the entire British Empire) went into mourning—an expression which manifested itself in fashion, jewelry and the decorative arts. Victoria remained in mourning for the rest of her life—forty years of black clothing and heavy, sombre jewelry (nothing frivolous or too jolly). This four-decades-long period of sobriety had a tremendous impact on the aesthetics of the day. Personally, I have always liked the heavy and serious, but handsome decorations of the day, mourning jewelry included.
This marcasite pin, made in the 1970's or 1980's, is inspired by the Late-Victorian mourning jewelry of the Nineteenth Century. While allowing the small indulgence of rhinestones, the brooch is quietly restrained—appropriate for a woman who does not wish to express too much merriment. Marcasite is made of faceted "stones" of pyrite (iron sulphide), set (or glued) into a metal backing (often silver). The facets catch the light and sparkle gently, yet have an understated, serious look. This pin would look good on a woman's lapel or even a man's coat or smoking jacket (at a Holiday party). Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248