The Victorians' eclectic taste included the desire for jewellery made from unusual materials. LAVA, a light porous substance from the Vesuvius area in Italy was carved into cameos, earrings etc., and sold as souvenire jewellery. Lava comes in a variety of shades from pale yellow and pink, and greys and browns. The colours are always muted and the surface mat, taking little polish. As lava is relatively soft and easily damaged and should be carefully examined especially to ensure that noses on cameos particularly are still intact!
HAIR, used in jewellery throughout the 17th and 18th centures, increased in popularity during the 19th century, especially after the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Jewellery made from the hair of a deceased loved one was a token of fond rememberance. Hair was used in a variety of ways - it could be set under glass as part of a scene in a brooch pendant or ring, often with seed pearls: or it was woven and plaited and then mounted in gold or metal as chains, necklaces or earrings. Amateurs made their own hair jewellery using kits and mauals available at the time. Cat gut the twisted intestines of sheep or horses, was sometimes used instead of hair.
BOG OAK, preserved wood from Irish peat marshes, provided an alternative to jet. Bog Oak is dark brown with a matt finish and was carved into various forms Occasionally other types of wood, such as ebony, feature in jewellery.