Kirsten's Corner

Victorian 14K Gold and Onyx Starburst Mourning Locket


Circa 1880, this Victorian mourning locket is carved out of a solid piece of onyx into a beautifully rounded oval, adorned with a 14k gold and seed pearl celestial star. When looking at this piece, the eye is first drawn to a circular pattern consisting of larger seed pearls, which then radiates off to the arms of the star. The pearls are bead-set, their placements hand carved into the 14k gold. On the backside of the onyx, there is a glass frame with space carved out behind it deep enough for a picture or even a lock of hair. The frame is tension held in place with a gold band fit around it. The piece hangs from a gold bail, with black enamel to perfectly match the onyx. There is slight wear to the enamel near the top of the bail.

As a piece of mourning jewelry, this pendant most likely once held a lock of hair—although for contemporary use, a picture or other tiny memento would make an equally meaningful sentiment. In Victorian era England, there was a resurgence in popularity for mourning jewelry after the passing of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. After her husband’s death, Queen Victoria went into a period of deep mourning that spanned for many years and affected the mourning practices of the English. Soon, it became fashionable for the higher classes to wear pieces of jewelry honoring their deceased loved ones.

The eight-point star design on the locket is a classic Victorian motif. Stars were often depicted on jewelry in the 1800’s. This timeless image has made a huge resurgence in contemporary jewelry fashion. The gold star, along with the beautifully deep black onyx, gives this locket a gothic look and is the perfect, subtle statement piece. This gorgeous dark star expresses the beauty of the Victorian era while also being on trend in contemporary fashion. 

There are 25 seeds pearls, the largest is 3.6 mm and the smallest is 1 mm. The onyx oval measures 1 3/8” x 1 7/8” and the bail adds an additional 5/8” to the height. There are small, age appropriate dents to the enamel on the bail, not visible unless looked for. The locket weighs 24.9 grams. 

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