suffragette jewellery

Suffragette Jewellery – Give Women Votes

A Suffragette is a term used to describe a member of an activists women’s organisation in the early 20th Century who campaigned for the right To Give Women Votes. Suffragette jewellery is distinctive in that it is made of green, white and violet gemstones; these colours were the code for Give Women Votes. By wearing these colours the Suffragettes were demonstrating their allegiance to women’s suffrage in the UK. Suffragette jewellery was produced in the years 1890 up until 1918; for a piece of jewellery to be authentic Suffragette jewellery it would have been produced during this period of time.  I have come across a few pieces of Suffragette Jewellery in my time (although not many as such pieces are rare). Suffragette jewellery is highly sought after today so you do not often see these pieces on the market and when a genuine article of Suffragette Jewellery does become available, they get snapped up very quickly!

Suffragette jewellery was worn by supporters of the Suffragette movement (circa 1908). Suffragette jewellery and medals were worn as a political statement. Suffragette memorabilia and jewellery is highly sought after today and its desirability has peaked in light of all the media coverage in the build up to the 100 year anniversary of this amazing moment in our history. In the film Suffragette starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helen Bonham Carter; Meryl Streep is filmed wearing the now well recognised Holloway Brooch (this I shall come to later). The Suffragette colour scheme which can be seen in much of the jewellery is green, white and violet. Suffragettes used these colours to represent who they were. The colours were no secret. The colours stood for the phrase: Give Women the Vote.

The high-end London jeweller and silversmith Mappin & Webb dedicated a whole double page spread of their 1908 Christmas catalogue to Suffragette jewellery which was seen as quite a bold move at the time as to be seen wearing or promoting such colours was controversial. With the outbreak of the First World War wearing Suffragette jewellery was viewed as unpatriotic.

The Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) was a well-recognised Suffragette group who felt that the colours represented nobility, purity and hope. The colours are symbolic. Purple is the Royal colour also known as regal blood and would be represented by an Amethyst stone. The colour white was represented by Pearls or in some cased Opals and was signified as purity. Lastly, the colour green was represented by either Emeralds, Peridot or Tourmalines.

You cannot research Suffragette jewellery without coming across the Holloway brooch. The Holloway Brooch or medal was awarded to Suffragettes who had been incarcerated as a result of their Suffragette protests. The Holloway Brooch was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst. Sylvia Pankhurst was a recognised Suffragette leader and artist. Pankhurst was imprisoned in Holloway for her tireless campaigning for Women’s Rights. During her time in prison she endured sleep, hunger and thirst strikes. Sylvia Pankhurst designed the Holloway Brooch so that Suffragettes were recognised as political prisoners. The Holloway brooch is recognisable by the convict’s arrow in the Suffragette colours of purple, white and green. The convict’s arrow was set against the Portcullis symbol of the House of Commons.

It has to be pointed out that there are a lot of so-called Suffragette jewellery on the market with the symbolic colours but whether it can be directly attributed to this movement is questionable. There is much debate in the trade as to what warrants as a genuine piece of Suffragette jewellery that can be directly attributed to somebody wearing such a piece back in the day. Often if the piece does not have a maker’s stamp or does not come with a certificate of authentication collectors will not see the jewellery as a valid or genuine Suffragette article. A genuine Edwardian piece of Suffragette jewellery would command a large sum of money.

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