Victorian Scottish Agate Silver Bracelet

A warm and handsomely stylish 19th century Victorian Scottish agate bracelet, consisting of alternating linked panels of engraved sterling silver and carved chalcedony and banded agate, with a simple silver snap down hook clasp.

To say that Scottish style jewelry was well-beloved during the Victorian era is an understatement; the 19th century English really nursed a mania for it. At the vanguard of this craze for all things Scottish was Queen Victoria herself– who, having bought a Scottish castle as a vacation home and sometimes dressed her own children in tartans, also required her guests to an opening ball for the 1851 Worlds Exhibition to arrive in Highland dress.

The Victorian desire to collect and wear the Highlander spirit aligned with the age of Romanticism that had set across Britain in the 1820s and 30s. There was much cultural interest during this time in history as a source of epic narratives and ideals. A menagerie of “revival” movements of all kinds gained traction in the decorative arts– medieval, renaissance, Etruscan, classical antiquity, Egyptian, etc etc. Much of this historical fetishization was a sentimental impulse to take refuge in the idea of history as escapism, entertainment, and nostalgia, for Victorians living in the 1830s on were rapidly losing connection to the societies of their mothers and grandmothers due to massive changes wrought by the industrial revolution.

Scotland — with its craggy landscapes, pristine lochs, and almost mystical glens — was idealized by the English as an antithesis of smoke-smothered Manchester: the land of ancient castles instead of mechanized factories; the home of brave warriors instead of dispirited proletariate laborers. In short Scotland was in no short supply of history, imagination, romance, and just a dash of danger (thanks to the epic novels of Sir Walter Scott). And thus it became a very popular tourist and vacation destination. In particular, honeymooners loved the highlands.

Production of 19th century jewelry in the Scottish style increased significantly to meet rising tourist demands and popular cultural interest. One simply could not fully submerge in the highlander experience without accessorizing: tradition required plaid brooches, ring annular brooches, kilt pins, St. Andrew’s crosses, straps and buckles, and clan emblem jewelry. Many of these jewelry were direct reproductions of ancient Scottish folk jewelry, and would be sold to visitors as souvenirs, love tokens, and talismans to ward off evil.

Ideas and ideals aside, the enduring popularity of Scottish jewelry could be best attributed to its visual qualities. Perhaps more than any other regional style, Scottish jewelry utilizes regionally-available materials to create color palettes and visual cues so distinctive that wearers are instantly transported to a different place and time.

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Description

Date: latter half of the 19th century (c. 1850-90s), Victorian era

Materials: solid sterling silver, agate, chalcedony

Weight: 23.9 grams

Dimension of agate panels: 26 x 20 mm, 21 x 22 mm, 26 x 20 mm

Dimension of engraved silver panels: 21 x 25 mm

Length of bracelet (end to end): 19.5 cm (7 2/3 “)

Condition: great antique condition, immediately ready to wear. There are however the following flaws:

1. the back of one silver panel has two small dents

2. the silver is tarnished due to age; if you desire a brighter silver look, we can polish this bracelet for free to restore the shine

3. the agate panels have some nicks and small chips to extremities

4. One of the end pins holding an agate panel to the silver appears to be a later brass replacement