Community Events

Sparta Historical Society Presents

“Victorian Jewelry Curiosities Exhibit”

About the Event

Extended to August 25, 2019, the curio cabinet exhibit is featured in the Van Kirk Homestead Parlor as an adjunct to the Victorian theme of this period room. The exhibit offers a view of jewelry worn during the Victorian era, which was divided into an early, middle, and late period. The featured jewelry demonstrates the distinct form of style and design that evolved in Europe and America during this era.

Joyce Simmons

Joyce Simmons

Selections are on loan from the Joyce Simmons collection with additions from the Sparta Historical Society and Centenary University. Small group lectures for those interested in Victoriana are available. Call 973-726-0883 and leave a message for a group reservation.

Location of Exhibit

Van Kirk Homestead Museum

336 Main Street

Sparta, New Jersey, 07871

(Use Sparta Middle School driveway.)


The exhibit is open the 2nd & 4th Sunday of July and August in 2019.

July 14th and 28th, 2019

August 11th and 25th, 2019


Open from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Victorian Jewelry talk held at 1:30 pm on Sundays.


The Victorian Period overwhelmed England in the 19th century, largely due to the events in the life of Victoria, Queen of England, beginning with her reign in 1837, and ending upon her death in 1901.  Although Victoria was the longest reigning English Queen, this so-called Victorian period style influenced many European countries at the time. Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France and other countries contributed to design styles as they meshed with the European timelines of Romanticism, and Nationalism. Their influences of design at that time, offered the growing middle class an opportunity to wear affordable, yet beautiful jewelry.

Victorian Necklace

Victorian Necklace

With the rise of the middle class and industrialization, people did not have to be aristocrats to purchase and adorn themselves with finely made objects of desire. This exhibit (1800-1910) of curiosities traces the end of the Georgian Period and flows into the beginning of the Edwardian Period, with overlapping references to Naturalism, Romanticism and Nationalism. Materials such as hair, coral, tortoiseshell, Whitby jet, Bog oak, glass, amber, banded agate, amethyst, marcasite, pearls, ivory, horn, shell, lacquer and crystals were used. As the metals of pinchbeck, silver, gold, brass, steel and even early celluloid created an interesting array of design opportunity for the times.

Victorian Snake Bracelet

Victorian Snake Bracelet

Certain characteristics identify 19th century made jewelry: the pin closure extended beyond the clasp; the petite size brooch was common; long chains were between 46”- 70” in length; cameos were carved of various materials; natural materials were highly used in construction design; serpent, snake, clover, shamrock and cross designs were prevalent; black was the prominent color in mourning pieces; as grieving time lessened, gunmetal, brown and dark colored gems combined mediums. And, of course, for the wealthy and prominent, high karat gold and large gems were the fashion, along with tiaras.

Creativity was the key which paved the way for the individual designers and houses of manufacturers to establish, even here in Newark, New Jersey, one of the finest jewelry centers for the world toward the late 19th century.

*These events are not sponsored by CJCI, but are occurring within our community.