We Mourn in Black...

"We mourn in black: why mourn we not in blood?"
~ Henry VI by William Shakespeare ~

The tradition of wearing black during the mourning period
dates back to the Roman Empire, when togas made
from dark coloured wool were worn.

This continued throughout history in many cultures.

After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, Queen
Victoria refused to wear anything but black, until her death in 1901.

The following image was taken in 1879 and shows Queen Victoria
with her five grandchildren all mourning the loss of Princess Alice:
*Queen Victoria's daughter and the children's mother.

(image source)

As well as wearing heavy black clothing to show that
they were in mourning, Victorian women also wore
mourning jewellery, usually made of jet, which
often contained a lock of the deceased's hair.


I've come across many pieces of mourning jewellery during
my time as a vintage seller, and although I feel sadness for
the grief-stricken loved ones, I'm also fascinated by such
macabre and wonderfully Gothic pieces of history.

Today, I thought I'd show you a few of the
pieces I've discovered lately...


 A mourning Brooch, via Gillard and May

A Mourning Pendant via Old Lockets

This Mourning Brooch via Polly's Antiques

A reproduction Mourning Pendant, via Altered Eras

This Mourning Bracelet via Down a Dark Alley
(what a fantastic shop name)

This reconstructed Mourning Choker via Beauty and the Beads UK

And finally, a mourning ring, complete with a lock
of braided hair, via Trafalgar Jewellers.

I'm not sure I'd wear a piece of jewellery which
contained the hair of someone I wasn't related to, but I quite
like the idea of keeping a piece of a loved one close to you.


*Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
had nine children...

Victoria (1840 - 1901)
 Albert (1841 - 1910)
Alice (1843 - 1878)
Alfred (1844 - 1900)
Helena (1846 - 1923)
Louise (1848 - 1939)
Arthur ( 1850 - 1942)
Leopold (1852 - 1884)
Beatrice (1857 - 1944)

...and forty grandchildren.


I have a few pieces of mourning jewellery in the Etsy Shop.
If you'd like to browse, simply *click*


  1. Goodness! This takes me back home to Sicily...!
    The Weeping and Wailing and Gnashing of teeth!
    Especially at funerals..all the female members
    of the family, in church, dressed in black, the
    male members outside, enjoying a tipple out of a
    bottle or hip flask! :).
    Back in the old days, well, some 50~60yrs ago, a
    woman who had lost her husband, no matter at what
    age, remained in black for the rest of her life.
    And, would never remarry..So, if a bride lost her
    husband early in the marriage, she would sit outside
    her home, possibly with her Mother/Grandmother and
    just sow/knit etc. for the rest of her life!
    As for the men...Well that's another story! They get
    ALL the freedom they want!
    But, it has changed somewhat these days! You have to
    go to the remote villages to find that way of life!

    And, as for Queen Victoria...She was a bit of a naughty
    lady at times! And Edward Stanley wrote in his diaries, that
    Victoria and John Brown, shared an adjoining room!
    There was also Abdul Karim..rumours that she had a 'friendship'
    with, few other names have popped up over the years!
    HeHe! Let's hope she took her crown off...! :0).

    Just thought...there's a 2012 song by Kanye West..called..Mercy.
    Which starts with the words..'Weeping and moaning and gnashing
    of teeth'.

    So..There it is...!
    Good mourning to one and all...!!!

    1. Thank you Willie, you're a fountain of information, as always :)

  2. I love jet and always wanted the a couple of mourning pieces I need to keep looking But the W Hammond have lovely collection of Whibty Jet.

    1. I too love jet. Mourning pieces would ee perfect to collect ♥

  3. And didn't Victorian men wear black armbands on their suit jackets too? I seem to recall that.

    1. They did indeed. Even babies were dressed with black ribbon tied to their arms.

  4. I've quite a lot of my ancestors mourning jewellery, quite a few have got hair in them and it's never bothered me to wear it. I've got my Great-Great Grandmother's mourning jacket, too - it fits perfectly.
    I bought a second Victorian mourning jacket from a car boot sale in the Summer for £5. It's teeny but I love it. xxx

    1. I think it's lovely that you have mourning jewellery which belonged to your ancestors. I too would not have a problem wearing that. I do love the sound of your Great, Great Grandmother's mourning jacket, and the one you found at a car-boot. Perfect! xx

  5. You've quoted one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes. So thank you.

    I love the history you've shared, and understand your fascination--perhaps more so, because I feel the same way.

  6. Oh, my gosh! You can see the faces of the current Windsors in the 2 girls on the left. Strong genes!

    I doubt it will come as any shock to you that I adore jet! ;)

    1. I didn't notice before, but you're right, wow!

      Ha ha, no shock at all ♥

  7. Hi Yvonne,
    Did you watch the recent serious about Victoria? I loved it and can’t wait for it to return. I had no idea she had 40 grandchildren! I have an old jet necklace which I’ve always called my ‘mourning look’ I got it to wear to a 1930s party with an original 30s dress and shoes. I sold the dress and shoes on eBay some years ago and have always wished I had kept them. I still have the necklace, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I put it!
    You get a mention on my blog this week - with a link to your Etsy shop. Every little helps!
    Happy Halloween and thanks again for the lovely card. xx

    1. Sadly, I didn't but it looks great and I'll definitely watch it one day.
      I love the sound of your 30s dress and shoes and so glad you kept the neckace.

      Aww, thank you for that Barbara. I'll pop over for a peek ♥

  8. This is fascinating!!! Stunning jewellery! I don't know if I would wear jewellery either, that contained hair from a loved one. But it is so cool! Love the black pieces!!!

    1. They really are stunning, aren't they? ♥


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment ♥