Throughout history, women’s jewelry has represented wealth, status and style. Very rarely has fine jewelry represented a meaningful and poignant cause, which is why Suffragette jewelry is extraordinary and special. These rare and treasured vintage jewelry pieces are both beautiful and eloquent in their reminder of the struggle faced by women in their fight for the right to vote.
It is easy for us in the 21st century to forget the tremendous courage and fortitude shown by women suffragists demanding to be recognized as politically equal to men, a goal accomplished only 100 years ago. Suffrage jewelry symbolized this trying time and is now highly prized as a remembrance of this period in history.
Suffragette jewelry symbolized this trying time and is now highly prized as a remembrance of this period in history.
History Behind the Movement
The Suffragette movement took hold in Great Britain in the early 20th century. One of the primary founders of the political movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, gathered women of the upper-middle classes to form the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). Seeking to take a proactive approach to assert women's voting rights, the WSPU organized marches and other public events which were seen as audacious affronts to the male-dominated status quo.
Members were often cited for civil disobedience, and treated with aggression from their male peers. However, they remained undeterred in their goal of persuading Parliament to grant women suffrage. To gain momentum and press, they staged marches and rallies, even hunger strikes, to further their cause. In the press coverage of their protests, the ardent crusaders of this movement were dubbed “Suffragettes.”
Jewels for the Women's Suffrage Movement
The colors chosen to represent the political movement were green, white and violet, symbolizing the party’s core message: Green- “Give” White - “Women” - Violet- “Votes” and were paired together in Suffragette jewelry often containing peridot, pearls, and amethyst. The suffragette's dedication to a fashionable and feminine style remained an important part of the group's identity, partly to offset the common misconception that the group was populated by unladylike troublemakers. The elegant suffragette jewelry became an integral part of WSPU members' representing themselves, communicating their message without words as an aim to grow the movement and further their cause. As both the Suffragette movement and the fine jewelry itself gained public momentum, the successful London-based jeweler Mappin & Webb dedicated their entire 1908 holiday catalog to the popular tri-color baubles.
A major breakthrough came for the women's movement during the first world war. Although organized WSPU marches and protests ceased at the outbreak of war, as the able-bodied men of Britain were sent to fight, ordinary American women began to perform many traditionally male jobs. This phenomenon shifted public perception of women’s abilities, and helped to propel the women's suffrage movement towards it goal. In 1918, many women over 30 were granted the right to vote, and in 1928 all American women over 21 were granted the right to vote, on equal terms as men.
The tenacity and passion of the brave Suffragettes dramatically altered the position of women in the Western world. Their efforts influenced society for subsequent generations. These historical pieces of antique jewelry are not only beautifully crafted, but they are tangible reminders of strong women who altered history by taking up the cause for their rights, and commemorating their victory in achieving the vote for women.
If you are searching for an antique jewelry piece that is both stunning and meaningful, consider starting your search with our collection of Edwardian era jewelry from the women suffrage movement. Whether you're looking for a beautiful pendant, antique brooch, or engagement ring, our selection offers a variety of unique pieces for every kind of woman.
Gupta, Kat. Representation of the British Suffragette Movement. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
"Women and the Vote." www.parliment.uk. Accessed June 19, 2019. https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage