Antique Gold Chains

fancyThere’s something about antiques that peaks our interest. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of centuries long past, or the memory of a precious heirloom from a loved one. Maybe it’s just a fascination with an anachronistic element of a time before we were born that we know little or nothing about. We imagine ourselves living in that time and experiencing the wonder of a century that is not our own. It’s why so many people find themselves enamoured with antique jewellery items, especially chains.

Many antique chains are modelled after the Victorian Era, which was named, of course, after Queen Victoria of England. Her love of jewellery items is what inspired the Arts and Crafts Movement from 1870-1914. However, it’s not just her love of jewellery that fuelled a new era of craftsmanship and décor. Queen Victoria, aside from collecting and curating her own jewellery collection, actually made some herself! She even gave jewellery as gifts to other nobles in the British Empire, and jewellery designers in England soon found themselves modelling their designs after her tastes.

Before Queen Victoria became queen, a popular jewellery item was the cameo. These cameo pieces were originally made by Italian artisans and became popular in Europe after upper class citizens brought them back from their tour of the country. Up until 1807, they had been carved from precious gems, which not only meant they were hard to make, but it also made them extremely expensive. These cameos would often be attached as charms or pendants to necklace chains. In 1807, jewellers began to use Conch shells to carve these cameo portrait pieces. The result was a pendant or charm that was easily affordable by not just the upper classes, but the rest of Europe as well.

With the Industrial Revolution came chain-making machines; these machines allowed chains to be produced on a wider scale, and like the cameo, they became far more affordable. After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria began to wear only black jewellery as she settled in for an ongoing period of mourning. At this time, a span of new materials (such as fossilized driftwood) started being used for jewellery making. The Victorian Era is characterized by the unusual materials used for jewellery making, including chains. This makes the Victorian style truly unique, and it makes for some very fascinating designs.

One of these unique designs was the Albert chain, named after Queen Victoria’s late husband. It is, quite simply, a style of chain modelled after the one Prince Albert would wear on his waistcoat. At one end of the chain, a pocket watch would be attached; the other end had a “T” bar shape that would attach to a coat button hole. This attachment style is also used for bracelets and necklaces, with one end being the T-bar and the other being a large metal ring, just large enough to slip the T-bar through at an angle. This would hold the bracelet or necklace in place. A female derivative of this style of chain is called the Albertina chain.

Another style element particular to the Victorian era was the popularity of rose gold. It’s much like its yellow cousin, but the hue is tinted with a light blush colour. Rose gold was first used in Russia, but it soon spread to Europe. Rose gold gets its name from the styles of jewellery it was used in, namely carefully-crafted gold roses for rings and pendants. During the early years of the 20th century, platinum eclipsed rose gold as the metal of choice for jewellery and was used to create a new fad of geometric designs. Rose gold soon made its comeback, however, when wartime demanded platinum be used as a resource for building war materials.

Not only do antique chains look beautiful and unique, but the blush hue of rose gold adds a touch of femininity to any jewellery piece. There are many different styles of antique chains, and the variety of chains on our website is extensive. Take, for instance, our Berlin chain, which uses exquisite fleur de lis connectors and long, swirling carved beads. For a truly startling look of grace and femininity, try our Paris chain. Its delicate knotted chain and slim rectangular beads evoke images of Paris sunsets and dainty floral dresses. Though antique chains look best with rose gold, yellow and white gold are also available. Check out our selection and purchase your very own blast from the past. Were Queen Victoria alive today, we’re sure she would be delighted to see her inspirational designs sold en mass to true appreciators of fine antique jewellery.