This pair of Victorian bracelets, of jet and applied gold, was probably made in the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, the centre of a booming industry turning and carving jet ornaments and jewellery in the nineteenth century. Each bracelet is constructed of rectangular jet tiles threaded onto double elastic strands and attached to a large centre medallion with a scalloped edge. In the Victorian language of jewellery the buckle signified loyalty, virtue, strength and protection. This meaning might be considered well-matched to the nature of their owner Elizabeth Buchanan (c1822-1890), loyal and loving wife of William Buchanan (c1799-1885). Elizabeth was remembered at her death for her kind and sympathetic nature and the sweetness of her disposition. The bracelets might have been purchased during a Buchanan family trip to Ireland, Scotland and London in 1867-1869. Elizabeth is wearing them – perhaps even displaying them – in a studio portrait by Sydney photographer William Bradley, probably taken soon after the family’s return to Sydney. When Elizabeth died in 1890 her daughter Bessie Rouse inherited her jewellery. She kept them in a red leather jewellery case at Rouse Hill House, where they remain.
HR101/19 + R86/789-43 [photograph]