Naturalistic jewellery, that is, jewellery which imitates or is influenced by real life or nature, was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and up until WWI. Brooches were shaped as sprays of flowers, vine leaves and tendrils, and incorporated fruit like grapes and berries, as well as butterfly wings.
Flowers, leaves and stems were created out of gemstones and gold but also out of coral, shell, ivory, jet, enamel, micromosaics and pietra dura. In the Victorian era, flower motifs were used in jewellery to send sentimental messages, like ivy for fidelity and eternal life, forget-me-nots for enduring memory and roses for love and passion.
Recently, I acquired a beautiful Victorian bangle which is quite unusual as well as being lovely. When taking photos of it, I christened it the Woodland Bangle as every part of it evokes nature. The band of the bangle has been engraved so that it imitates a piece of wood, with knots and bark.
The sides are also imitating wood but are overlaid with leaves and tendrils, while the front is set with a large light green prasiolite (a green quartz), reminding me of light striking a pond through the leaves of the trees around it. The name ‘prasiolite’ comes from the Greek: prason, which means ‘leek-green’ and lithos, which means ‘stone’.
One of the vine tendrils on the front has been badly repaired at some stage so that it lost some of its coil and the prasiolite is probably a replacement but it is about 160 years old so repairs are to be expected. It is still a thing of beauty.