From the mid-Victorian era, dating to c1885, comes this stunning and serene large Vulcanite Mourning Cameo Pendant.
Measuring 2 1/4" in length (excluding the steel loop bale), it is 1 3/4" wide and the high-relief raises it to a depth of 3/4" at the highest point.
The Cameo is fashioned from Vulcanite (sometimes referred to by jewelry manufacturers as Ebonite). The finely detailed design is moulded (unlike Whitby Jet which is carved) and features a beautiful young woman with windswept hair, wearing a simple Grecian style gown. The high-relief moulding is attached to the oval background with two rivets.
With a lovely polished patina the Cameo has no damage and is in Good Antique condition.
When Queen Victoria lost her beloved Prince Albert she adopted the traditional Mourning fashion of black clothing and jewelry, but unlike other ladies of her era she continued to maintain her black "Widow's Weeds' until her death 40 years later..Thus a trend for black Mourning jewelry was begun.
The fossilized wood found on the Yorkshire coast and known as Whitby Jet was the favoured fabric from which Mourning jewelry was fashioned..but as it was an expensive commodity the newly discovered Vulcanite soon became a popular alternative.
Unlike some Vulcanite items (which are actually dark brown)..this lovely pendant is a good 'natural' black. It comes without a chain but would look fabulous on a Jet necklace or black ribbon.
Vulcanite is Vulcanised (heated) rubber named after Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire. It was developed by British scientist Thomas Hancock and first patented in the UK in May 1844. American Charles Dunlop took out the US patent one month later in June 1844. Vulcanite still has many uses today and can be found in such diverse items as bowling balls and saxophones. (Wikipedia)
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