Have you ever been curious about the use of jewelry in art? In addition to adding beauty or showcasing personal and beloved pieces, jewelry was very strategically used in portraiture. It often told of vast wealth and/or power. Queens Victoria and Elizabeth I are great examples of this use of jewelry.
In a portrait of Queen Victoria from 1859, the use of jewels and jewelry communicated her authority and wealth. She wears a crown symbolizing the United Kingdom’s three states of Ireland, England and Scotland and next to her sits another crown featuring the Stuart Sapphire and Black Prince’s Ruby. While the crowns convey her authority and power, the 161-carat diamond in her necklace showcases her vast wealth.
Queen Elizabeth I is often associated with pearls, which symbolize purity, godliness and the light of heaven. She strategically used pearls to convey her divine right as ruler and also to showcase her wealth as it was very difficult to acquire large quantities of pearls during her reign.
We have just skimmed the surface of jewelry’s symbolism in art. Next time you visit a gallery, see what you can conclude about the use (or absence) of jewelry in the portraits you view. And visit Bridgewater Jewelers to find your new favorite piece of jewelry!