Edwardian Suffrage Necklace
Suffrage jewellery was worn, during the early years of the 20th century, as an overt display of allegiance to the cause of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. The Suffragettes in particular, with close links to the Arts & Crafts movement, embraced the contemporary fashions of the day with an emphasis on "delicate femininity" - in order to, both, help enlist others to the cause, and to disassociate themselves from the stereotype of the 'masculine' women's rights campaigner. As Cally Blackman notes in her 2015 Guardian article:
"Membership numbers grew, and it became fashionable to identify with the struggle for the vote, even if only by wearing a small piece of jewellery picked out in semi-precious coloured stones or enamel."
The colours - purple, white, green - represented the Women's Social and Political Union, founded in 1903 and known as the suffragettes by 1906. Association with the suffragette cause became so fashionable by 1908 that Mappin & Webb, holders of royal warrants for jewellery since 1897, issued a catalogue of suffragette jewellery (Hughes, Ivor 2015). It's commonly stated that the colours were also an acrostic code, synonymous with the Give Women Votes slogan (green, white, violet), but there are no contemporary sources to back this up.
Through a combination of defiance, civil disobedience, protest, and violent activism, the suffrage movement eventually prevailed and the 1918 general election, the first to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, saw the first women elected to parliament (Constance Markievicz but, in line with Sinn Féin abstentionist policy, she declined to take her seat in the British House of Commons) and was the first in which some women (property owners older than 30) were allowed to vote.
This pendant certainly ticks the "dainty", "fashionable", and "Arts & Crafts" boxes - crafted in 9ct gold and set with peridot, pearl, and amethyst it's an excellent example of the style. Suspended on a fine gold chain it dates to c.1905.
Era: Edwardian, circa 1905
Pendant: 3.6cm by 2.5cm
Wearable length: 16.5 inches
Stones: Amethyst, Peridot, and Pearl
Marks: Stamped 9ct
Condition: Great antique condition
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