Queen Victoria and her family started to spend their summer holidays in Scotland and in 1847, she purchased Balmoral Castle to serve as her holiday house. One of her interests was the jewellery made in Scotland using local ornamental stones. This jewellery was described as Scottish agate or pebble jewellery. Originally made in Scotland, as demand for it increased, the jewellery began to be made in Birmingham and agates and other ornamental stones were sourced from India, Germany  and Africa. By the 1880s, part of the jewellery construction was even outsourced to Germany.

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Victorian silver buckle bracelet with agate inserts

Initially, the jewellery took the form of practical items such as kilt pins and plaid brooches but expanded into every form of jewellery, such as  silver bracelets, complete with  buckles,and inset with agate (like the one in the photo above), heart clasps, belt clasps, anchor brooches, earrings and charms.

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Victorian dirk-shaped brooch

Ornamental  stones of the quartz family were used and included transparent quartzes, like ameythysts, citrines and cairngorms, as well as translucent stones like chalecdony and carnelian, and opaque stones like agates and jaspers. By the 1870s, imported ornamental stones like malachite mined in Siberia began to be used

Scottish agate pin in boxIMG_7144crs
Victorian agate set pin

Most Scottish jewellery was set in silver, though more expensive gold versions were produced. Detailed engraving on the silver settings were done by hand and can be quite beautiful.