The word ‘bangle’ comes from the 18th century Hindu word ‘blangli’ meaning glass bracelet. It refers to rigid bands around wrist, arms and ankles but we use it to refer to wrist jewellery. Bangles became more popular than bracelets in the middle of the Victorian period.

Mourning bangles were common, particularly as Queen Victoria mourned Prince Albert for decades, even expecting her court to remain in mourning until about 1880.

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Victorian black enamel bangle with white enamel cross.

Lava cameo jewellery was  produced in Italy since about 1760, catering for the Georgian ‘Grand Tour’ visitors and the later Victorian tourists. The lovely gold bangle with the central lava cameo in the following photo is a great example of the higher quality bangle from around the early Victorian period.

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Antique lava cameo gold bracelet

As I have written in an earlier blog, moons and pearls were used a lot in Victorian jewellery, and this lovely bangle below is a beautiful example of this passion. It is solidly made in 15ct gold, with a twisted band, and a central feature of a crescent pearl set moon with a star inside it.

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Victorian 15ct gold bangle with crescent moon and seed pearls (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

Silver jewellery became most popular during the period 1880 to 1910 as the growing middle classes looked for affordable jewellery to buy.  Silver brooches were produced but the most stylish items of jewellery were the silver collar with or without locket,(which I will talk about in a later post) and the silver engraved bangle. This was a time of the Aesthetic Movement which called for a return to nature  and which was in turn influenced by Japanese arts. Many bangles were decorated with designs of bamboo, bulrushes, storks, fans and birds.

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Simple engraving on silver bangle

Gold jewellery continued to be produced for the less expensive end of the market, usually in 9ct gold, and usually with thin bands and simple decorations to reduce the cost.

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Victorian 9ct gold bangle (in Navette on Ruby Lane)


Next post, I will be discussing the history of gem treatments.