This necklace of graduated jet links is hung with a central pendant medallion and two smaller supporting medallions, all depicting the Roman goddess Minerva, goddess of wisdom. The smaller medallions may have once been detachable so that they could be worn as earrings. Jet was often worn as mourning jewellery in the nineteenth century but it was fashionable as well, particularly in the early 1870s. It was also light, so that substantial pieces of jewellery like this necklace could be worn without discomfort. The necklace features prominently in a pencil portrait of Bessie Buchanan (1843-1924) drawn by her friend Antoinette (Netta) Hayden in May 1872. Bessie and her parents William and Elizabeth Buchanan were then living at St John’s Terrace, Darlinghurst and Bessie’s friend Netta lived across the road. Her father was the Reverend Thomas Hayden, the rector of St John’s Darlinghurst. He had been born in northern Ireland where his father was the Archdeacon of Londonderry. Bessie’s mother Elizabeth Buchanan was also a native of Londonderry. It was the Reverend Thomas Hayden who officiated at the marriage of Bessie Buchanan and Edwin Stephen Rouse at St. John’s in March 1874.
HR93/203 & HR84/8 [portrait]