Stars and moons feature a lot in ancient and antique jewellery. Suns and moons have long been represented by gods. There was Ra, the Egyptian sun god, and Thoth, the moon god. There was the Babylonian moon goddess, Annit, and the Roman goddesses associated with the moon were Artemis, Danae, and Selene. The stars were also personified, with the Pleiades, the seven sisters, of Greek mythology, being transformed into doves and then stars. The movement of the heavenly bodies led to the twelve zodiac signs. Stars feature on flags, military badges, medals and coats of arms.
The moon has been depicted in jewellery most often as a crescent moon. Beautiful crescent moon brooches set with pearls or diamonds were popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Pearls, though, have long been associated with the moon, not only because of the creamy white colour but because they come from the sea, which is ruled by the moon and the tides.
Novelty items were stickpins and rings containing a moonstone with a face carved into it. These ‘man of the moon’ pieces are hard to find. Moonstones are so well named, beautiful, translucent, with a milky blue sheen.
In the 1860s, stars were the most common motif in jewellery. Jewellery had a pearl, diamond or enamel star at the centre. The designs at this time were simple and flat. Stars were worn in hair, stitched onto dresses and as brooches and pendants. Wealthy Victorians wore tiaras topped with stars. The wealthy also used diamonds in their star jewellery but seed pearls were more accessible for the middle class. Natural seed pearls, which are usually no more than 2mm in diameter, were small enough to be used for borders and to be set within gold borders easily.
An interesting book on this topic is ‘Heavenly: the Sun, Moon and Stars in Jewellery’, by Fritz Falk.