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Photographic Technologies

Learn more about the photographic techniques available in the mid-19th century

Photographic Jewellery

Bracelet with a miniature of Victoria, Duchess of Kent (1786-1861)©

Photographs came to replace the popular use of miniatures in jewellery. During her lifetime, Queen Victoria commissioned and collected a range of photographic jewellery. In 1861, Prince Albert designed this bracelet as a Christmas gift for Queen Victoria. The bracelet features a hand-coloured photograph of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent (1786–1861). Prince Albert died before the bracelet was completed.

Following Prince Albert’s death in December 1861, Queen Victoria commissioned numerous pieces of jewellery containing photographic images of Prince Albert. These served to commemorate her husband and to keep his image and presence close to her. The jewellery, from lockets to rings, sometimes contained hair from her husband. She gave photographic jewellery to her children and grandchildren, maintaining the legacy of Prince Albert within her family.

Portraits of Queen Victoria taken following Prince Albert’s death commonly feature her wearing jewellery containing an image of her husband. The jewellery indicated her continued mourning. A notable example is Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee portrait, taken in 1897. Through Queen Victoria’s influence, photographic jewellery became a popular way to mourn.