This matching set of earrings, brooch and necklace composed of Irish harps and shamrocks might be said to form a parure. It belonged to Bessie Rouse, nee Buchanan (1843-1924) who was born in Sydney to Irish-born parents. It may have been purchased in Dublin in 1867-1868 when Bessie and her parents made an extended visit to relatives in Ireland. Each piece in the set is made from Irish bog oak set in gold (possibly Wicklow gold). Although black jewellery was commonly worn during mourning, particularly in the years following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, it was also highly fashionable and worn for its beauty and sentiment. Bessie undoubtedly wore this jewellery in homage to her Irish ancestry. A photograph, which might also be a souvenir of the Buchanan’s visit to Ireland in the late 1860s, shows Bessie wearing the brooch and earrings from this set, with additional harp pendants attached to the earrings. The photograph, hand-coloured using the crystoleum process, depicts a radiantly red-haired young woman, dressed in green.
HR101/18 + R93/307 [photograph]