Mourning Brooches



2015-06-26 10:41:16

Mourning Broochesare a type of brooch traditionally worn after the passing of a family member or loved one.


History and Description

Mourning brooches are a type of jewellery most commonly worn in 19th century Britain. At the time, a variety of formal mourning clothes were worn for specific periods of time depending on the closeness of the deceased to the bereaved.

Mourning brooches were often worn permanently. They were often made entirely or in part of polished Jet, and sometimes incorporated some relic of the deceased, such as a plaited lock of hair. In an era of high infant-mortality, mothers would often wear a brooch with an opening to allow for the insertion of additional locks of hair for each lost child.

Guide For Collectors

The finest mourning brooches were made from Whitby Jet. Supplies have now naturally run down, so Jet pieces have rarity value and are not easily replicated or repaired. Due to the personal nature of these brooches, the best examples may not become available until estates are broken up on the death of the last representative of a family.

Great care should be taken with cleaning and restoration, particularly with pieces which carry relics such as hair. Pearls were also used extensively in mourning brooches, and when purchasing, the collector should verify the quality of the pearls used, as a guide to the resale value.

The website has a blog on the subject of mourning brooches and other forms of mourning jewellery, which offers a wide range of information to the collector.


A Victorian enamel and hair mourning brooch was sold by Fellows & Sons for £42 in January 2005.

A Victorian Mourning Brooch was sold by Aalders Auctions for $75 in March 2010.

Five gold mourning brooches and a ring were sold by Gorringes, Lewes, England for £200 April in 2005.

Four Victorian Onyx Mourning Brooches were sold by Skinner for $275 in September 2007.

A garnet and seed pearl mourning brooch was sold by Gorringes, Lewes, England for £70 in September 2005.

A Regency enamel and pearl mourning brooch was sold by Cheffins for £80 in November 2005.

A Victorian shell design mourning brooch was sold by Fellows & Sons for £45 in July 2005.

Four Victorian mourning brooches were sold by Gorringes, Lewes, England for £150 in December 2005.

A Georgian gold oval mourning hair brooch was sold by Gorringes, Lewes, England for £140 in June 2005.

A Victorian Swivel Mourning Cameo Brooch was sold by Rago Arts and Auction Center for $500 in February 2010.

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