Colorful Expressions: Using colored gem jewelry as symbols of self and meaning
Initiation and growth are Spring’s hallmarks. It’s 37 degrees the day I’m writing. Since the garden is mostly dormant, let’s look at the initiation of an interesting jewelry tradition.
Have you heard of Suffragette Jewelry?
It is jewelry made between 1908 and 1914, during the suffragette movement fighting for women’s right to vote.
Our early female freedom fighters chose the colors green, white and violet, representing “Give Women the Vote” to signal their allegiance to women’s right to vote. Supporters of the cause donned green/white/violet buttons, ribbons, and other accessories to symbolize their cause. Jewelers started offering jewels in the color scheme as well as for those who favored the purple and green color combination. The violet component was generally amethyst which was combined with green demantoid garnet or peridot and diamond &/or white metals or white enamel. Sometimes we even see all three colors of enamels.
One way we use jewelry is to symbolize the associations and values that link us.
Jewelry that spells out a secret message, called acrostic jewelry, was especially popular with the Victorians. The first letter of each gem in the jewel spells a message. Popular messages were REGARD featuring a lineup of ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, and diamond. Or DEAR spelled using the gems diamond, emerald, amethyst, and ruby.
From 2019’s vantage point, it is hard to imagine women jailed for Right to Vote marches and protests. I sure wish I had asked my Grandmother, who was born in 1886, more about her experiences in the early ages of women gaining the right to vote.
Most of today’s jewelry industry is built around the jewelry as symbols – the wedding ring being foremost in symbolizing our status and values. I talk more about the uses of jewelry in eBook, “10 Ways to Use Jewelry to Tell YOUR Story.” click here to download a copy.