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Suffragette Jewellery And the Bigger Picture

The global Suffragette Movement – which ran officially from 1866 – 1928 was about far more than just getting universal voting rights for women.   It was also about feminism, and being treated equally, or at least enabling women to have more say about their own rights than simply being ‘owned and governed’ by men.  Women landowners had already been enjoying voting rights in several countries and states across the USA. However, the independence of women in those times was generally due to their having been married and then widowed so as to gain their full financial and general.

Because it was as much about women’s rights in several areas of life, the concept of feminism brought with it (mostly by opponents of the cause and of course these were generally men) hails of screeching, shrieking mannish women who were reviled for their behaviour.

Gold, Amethyst, and Diamond Brooch with white opal

Suffrugette Jewellery typically made with Gold, Amethyst, and Diamond Brooch with white opal

It eventually became apparent for many women that embracing their femininity was perhaps going to win more sympathy to their cause than being bullish about their views and so by early the 1900’s as Victorian England moved into the Edwardian era, suffragettes liked to be depicted as soft, feminine, and warm, and this in turn dictated the fashion of softly pinned up hair, soft blouses, frills and jewellery that was pretty and delicate.  Suffragettes were willing to make a statement with their fashions about who they were, but also to encourage conversations with both their peers and opponents.


Why Amethyst, Peridot, and Pearls Were Used in Suffragette Jewellery

The colours of the movement ended up as Green, White, and Violet with the slogan being GiveDSC01648 (Green) Women (White) the Vote (Violet).  But in 1908 Mrs Pethick-Lawrence, editor of the weekly newspaper Votes for Women, explained the symbolism of the colours.  “Purple as everyone knows is the royal colour.  It stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity; while stands for purity and public life; green is the colour of hope and the emblem for spring.”  The colours stood for Freedom and dignity, purity, and hope.

The Suffragette Movement encouraged women to wear the colours in support of the campaign which is why there were so many beautiful Art Nouveau pieces created in those times featuring Green, white, and purple stone settings.  Another interesting thing to evolve was the style of hats and particularly hat pins.  In Victorian and Early Edwardian times, hats (and therefore hatpins) were outlandishly ornate.  In 1908 a law was passed regarding hat pins, specifically that they should be no more than 9” from point to end. This was based on the development of hats becoming increasingly flamboyant and therefore hatpins being viewed as potential weapons.  This in turn also affected fashions in jewellery.


Pearl/Amethyst Style of Suffragette Jewellery

As an aside note – Art Nouveau which was influenced by the femininity projected by the Suffragette Movement, and featured soft swirls and the gentle lines of nature, was eventually moved aside in favour of the linear and symmetrical styles of Art Deco.

Due to the colours of Green, White, and Violet, the use of Pearls, Amethysts, and Peridot were used extensively in jewellery during the Art Nouveau era, leaving a stunning legacy of rings, necklaces, and brooches that will forever be associated with the Suffragette Movement during the reigns of Edward VII and George V in the UK.

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