The Quest for Stuart Crystal Jewelry

August 21, 2012

England’s Most Enigmatic Jewels

I’m still on the quest to create a Wikipedia page for Stuart Crystals, one of the most enigmatic forms of mourning jewelry from the late 17th and very early 18th centuries. I have not succeeded in getting the page up to Wikipedia standards (you can read more about that struggle here), but I have found many beautiful and unusual examples of Stuart Crystals to admire!

(A very dour-looking) Portrait of Charles I in a Ring, 17th-18th Century

Stuart Crystal Ring, circa 1685-1705

Stuart Crystal Slide (converted to a pin), circa 1702

Stuart Crystal Mourning Slide, early 18th century

Stuart Crystal Mourning Buckle, circa 1686

Stuart Crystal Mourning Buckle, circa 1728

Stuart Crystal Mary II Memorial Slide, circa 1694

Lover’s Crystal, circa 1700

Stuart Crystals started off as protest/mourning jewels after the execution of King Charles I (of the House of Stuart) in 1649. By the end of the 17th century, the little rock crystal (quartz) jewelry had become a popular form of memorial, mourning, and love token jewelry. The style continued until about 1735 when tastes shifted to other styles of mourning jewelry.

If you want to help create a better Wikipedia page for these important artifacts, please click here!

7 Responses to “The Quest for Stuart Crystal Jewelry”

  1. Your blog is freaking AWESOME!!!!!

  2. oh, the richness of those ages! (if, admittedly, you were a lucky enough bastard to be brought up amongst the noblest part of human society) one can’t refrain yearning for such rings, and slides and even buckles!

  3. mickey Says:

    i have a stuart crystal ring that i found on a plantation, it has a asmall gold chain with coloquial initials in the middle…

  4. Matt Says:

    I have a pink foil-backed crystal ring, English, from about the 1750s. How do I know if the crystal is “Stuart” or not? It’s in the shape of a heart, so could be one of the love token variety. Thanks.

    • Liz Says:

      A true Stuart Crystal would be made to memorialize the monarchy (prior to King George I in 1714) usually through royal iconography like crowns, the monarch’s initials, and/or portraits. However, the name “Stuart crystal” has come to refer to late 17th to early 18th century tokens made with a faceted, clear crystal top with a foil back set in a closed-back setting with hair work, wire work (initials, wreaths, etc.), or pictorial foil work (skulls, angels, etc.) underneath. Foiled stones were common in jewelry other than Stuart crystals, so the major difference between a Stuart crystal setting and a regular jewelry setting is usually determined by the presence of memorial items encased under the stone.

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