She's a savvy business woman: successful, intelligent, politically aware. And she's interested in Suffragette Jewelry. Why? Because it's lovely, and more importantly, because it represents a milestone in the history of women's rights.
2020 is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment which guaranteed voting rights for women.
I've been on the lookout for pieces for Christine to no avail. Last week she brought in the brooch she recently found (above). I was so excited. "Let's do an email on Suffragette Jewelry!", I said, without a moment's hesitation.
The Suffragette Movement:
In the early 1900's, women mobilized simultaneously in the US and Great Britain (although not connected).
The British WPSU (Women's Social and Political Union) is the group most recognized with providing the necessary momentum.
The onset of World War I diverted attention away from this and other domestic issues as both countries mobilized for war efforts.
Women stepped up to fulfill jobs typically held by men when war broke out. Post war, men in power couldn't deny the contributions of women.
Parliament gave British women the right to vote in 1918; US Congress ratified the 19th amendment in 1920.
- Unique in it's purpose to convey a political message.
- Apparently wearing of the jewelry was a secret symbol between women who were sympathetic to the cause..
- The more significant Suffragette Jewelry was made in Great Britain.
- In the US, newly developed celluloid lapel buttons were favored, or women were encouraged to trade in their jewelry and make cash contributions to the cause.
- The colors of Suffragette Jewelry are Green, White, and Violet.
Green - The color of hope (peridot, demantoid garnet)
White - The color of purity in "private and public affairs"* (diamonds and pearls)
Violet - Stands for "the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity."* (amethyst, rhodelite garnet)
*You can read more at https://www.rauantiques.com/blog/suffragette-jewelry/
Another thought on what the colors represented: green "G" GIVE, white "W" WOMEN, violet "V" VOTE.
Representations of chains and prison gates symbolized the sacrifices of jailed members of the movement.
Rather than stones, enameled pieces bearing these colors were popular. This was a less expensive option enabling more women to participate.
There's an interesting color connection: "Red-purple (violet) and yellow-green appear directly opposite each other on the color wheel making them complementary colors. The opposition of these colors creates what is referred to as maximum contrast and maximum stability. Color theory would account for the popularity of mating peridot or demantoid with a purple gem - amethyst (or rhodilite garnet). The color combination is striking to the eye and the coupling was inevitable Add pearls or diamonds or white enamel to this combination and you have the colors of the WSPU."*
*You can read more at https://www.langantiques.com/university/suffragist-jewelry/
I'm sure we all join Christine in sharing a deep sense of gratitude to the women who fought the battle. I don't like to think the right to vote was "given" to us. Rather, I prefer to think we "took back" a right that had been wrongly denied us.
In the process of asserting their rights, our sister-ancestors left us with reminders of their struggles in the form of beautiful jewelry.
And a note of thanks to customers like Christine who continue to inspire me.