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Victorian mens jewelry and fashion | minusOne jewelry

Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Apr 20, 2024 | meaningful jewelry + gift guides

During the Victorian era mens jewelry ranged from pinky rings and collar studs, to watch chains and fobs, to button studs, boutonniere and lapel pins.

Prince Albert wearing a pinky ring and watch chain.

The icon of men’s fashion in the Victorian Age was Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert. Prince Albert is shown out of military uniform wearing a pinky ring and watch chain.

Buttons are a regular consideration for mens jewelry spanning centuries. Here Prince Albert’s shirt buttons are prominent, likely gemstones and a precious metal.

The Victorian era lasted from June 20, 1837 to January 22, 1901. It is named after Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and seven months, longer than any of her predecessors.

The Victorian Era fashion can be divided into three parts: early, middle and late, just to make it simple.

minusOne jewelry | stick pins for men | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Fashion trends changed from season to season, much like today. However, today’s fashion adherence is less rigorous.

Early Victorian jewelry and fashion for men

Victorian men in the 1830s and 1840s, the earliest part of Queen Victoria’s reign, wore watch chains and fobs, lapel pins, button and collar studs.

This portrait of young Charles Darwin from 1840 (artist George Richmond) shows what might be a watch chain running to and from up to three pockets.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Darwin (1809-1882) had style later in life, but it was not defined by jewelry.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

In the early part of the 1800s, those who moved in society and who participated in the emerging middle class, followed fashion slavishly, as far as they were able to keep up.

Novels of manners like those of Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813) reference whether someone’s dress was in or out of fashion. There was less independent thought when it came to sartorial pursuit.

Beau Brummell and mens Regency era fashion

Early Victorian men’s jewelry was described by varying levels of foppery.

An early Victorian man was a “fop” for being such a slave to fashion that his dress choices were conspicuous.

A Regency era "fop" | Victorian Mens jewelry and fashion | minusOne jewelry
A Regency era “fop”

You were a “fop” if you took snuff from a dangling spoon and wore garish gemstones, alongside brightly colored brocade vests and elaborately styled cravats.

This was a residue of the preceding age, when the Prince Regent guided fashion choices through his coterie and the events they attended.

This era is known in romance publishing as the Regency Period.

If you’d like to read about men’s clothing fashion during the Regency period, just preceding the Victorian Age, read Georgette Heyer.

Heyer is amazing fun, her writing is smart, and her characters memorable. And she writes fashion forward class act Beau Brummell (1778–1840) into her books – specifically Regency Buck.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Mid Victorian era mens jewelry and fashion

Charles Dickens is a sublime example of a middle-of-the-road (albeit world-renowned) Victorian man, and his jewelry is very much in keeping with the time.

This portrait, sketched during Dickens’ US lecture tour in 1859, shows the author with studded buttons, wearing a watch chain and a prominent brooch or boutonniere.

Charles Dickens 1859 drawing mens Victorian jewelry | minusOne jewelry

This colorized portrait of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 shows a simple black suit and bow tie and the standard gold watch chain disappearing into an interior coat pocket.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Victorian watch chains are available in gold, silver, and gold fill.

Sometimes watch chains ran long, from an interior chest pocket to the waist, allowing them be worn around the neck, if we choose to do so now.

The links are often thick snake chains – durable and resistant to breakage – and the ends large and interesting, making them collectible and a cool contemporary fashion trend.

Shop my favorites! I have a vintage watch chain favorites collection on Etsy.

vintage watch chains on Etsy | shop my favorites | minusOne jewelry

Late Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a fabulous Victorian gentleman who followed his own nose when it came to dress.

Did Oscar Wilde wear jewelry in the Victorian era? You betcha!

However, this picture doesn’t show a Victorian era man’s statement brooch, as you’d hope. Because wowza, that brooch would be awesome.

Instead, Oscar Wilde is shown here wearing a green carnation, and it has a story behind it. (Interested in literary history? Read about Oscar Wilde’s green carnation.)

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

But that’s definitely a pinky ring, a relatively standard piece of Victorian men’s jewelry.

Get a load of that smolder.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie lived 1835-1919, so his life as an adult spanned the mid-Victorian era, well into Edwardian times.

One of the most famous men and undoubtedly also one of the richest, Carnegie could easily be called staid. His less-than-fabulous fashion sense allowed for very little ornament.

But even Carnegie, shown here in a photograph in 1913, allowed himself a piece of minimalist jewelry. But that’s it! The fingers of both hands are bare.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

This small round was likely a gemstone head of a pin. Stick pins were very popular for men, and were even sold to the masses via Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs, available beginning in 1893.

Men’s watches were the most common form of men’s jewelry, but not seen until the owner decided to pull it out of a pocket. The readily seen ornament was the chain.

These watches were sold to the masses via Sears & Roebuck among the 786 pages (!) of its 1897 catalog.

a catalogue page of men's watches | minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion
1897 Sears & Roebuck catalog | men’s watches

In the late Victorian era, men wore not only stick pins in their collars, but also bar pins for collars and cuffs.

This late Victorian bar pin is made of solid gold (SOLD by Lang Antiques).

Lang Antiques Victorian bar pin

Bar pins were a popular commodity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and Sears Roebuck & Co. sold many designs in gold fill.

Sears Roebuck & Co. bar pin page

I’ve reproduced them from the original casts in several styles for masculine style earrings that are perfect for men and women.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Available as posts or dangles, and even with adjustable clips for non-pierced ears.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

In solid brass, earring backs are 14K gold fill.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

In the antiqued silver finish (sterling over brass), earring backs are solid 925 sterling silver.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

In dangle earrings, both French loops (like fishermans’ hooks) and lever backs are available.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

Click any image to be taken to the minusOne product listing.

minusOne jewelry | Victorian mens jewelry and fashion

The next era was the Edwardian era, circa Titanic, Downton Abbey, and preceding World War I. Times changed a lot. The Edwardian era fashion, especially for men, is one of my favorites.

Send me your favorite men’s fashion. Or your favorite Victorian or Edwardian era jewelry.

I’m always happy to hear from you!

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