Friday, October 19, 2012

Choosing Victorian or steampunk jewellery for a character or role playing

Steampunk and the Victorian era go hand-in-hand most of the time. One is born of a fascination with the other but, like most offspring, is a little more or different than expected. Steampunk jewellery differs quite a bit from Victorian jewellery, as does almost anything else steampunk versus Victorian except maybe sooty cobblestones and pollution darkened skies. There are quite a few markers that suggest the two styles are related. But the two styles are distinct enough to have fans of both humming and harring as they try to choose just what to wear or just what to deck their characters in.

What would interest those of you out there writing is that you might well have to choose when it comes to characters wearing jewellery in your steampunk story. What you will need to consider is: has steampunk invaded the Victorian society so much that Victorian jewellery is no longer fashionable or appropriate? Or is your steampunk society just starting? If so, then there could be a combination of Victorian jewellery and steampunk jewellery within your story.

So what do you choose and for which characters or roles (if roleplaying)? For some characters it seems obvious. The older generations present in your story, the ones likely to have seen Victorian society pre steampunk, will be more attached to Victorian jewellery. But don't forget that even amongst the elderly nowadays you'll find internet users, youtubers, mobile phone users and the like. This means that no matter what, there will always be those within the older generations who will adopt new technology. So if your older character is more in tune with or keenly interested in steampunk technology then maybe the newer steampunk jewellery would be more appropriate for her or him to wear.

For the younger characters there will be a high pressure or a need for steampunk jewellery according to fashion and function (if a gadget or magic infused item). So the majority of younger wearers would choose steampunk jewellery for everyday wear but what happens during special occasions? During balls, introductions to high-society members or any other occasion when respectability is demanded then you may need to either balance the steampunk jewellery with Victorian or just go with Victorian jewellery.

So, which to choose? Well, it helps to actually have an idea of what each looks like as well as knowing the occasion and the character type.

Victorian jewellery is both intricate and chunky, traits which steampunk jewellery adopted, but the focus on colour is less towards red, orange, bronze, gold or black than you'd expect after viewing steampunk jewellery. In fact, any stone or metal used in jewellery now was widely used then too and in similar combinations. The differences between modern or steampunk jewellery and Victorian jewellery are mainly in the intricacies and the preferred shapes. I've collected a few of different styles and colours as examples so you can get an idea of what to deck your character in if she or he's wearing Victorian jewellery.

Victorian bracelet. Chunky and multicoloured through the use of mother of pearl. The colouring is subtle so this piece could be worn by young and old characters, whether they normally wear steampunk jewellery or not.

Victorian brooch. Intricate and multicoloured. This piece, although like the above in colouring  would still best suit a Victorian character but could be worn as a stepping stone piece, particularly if it were charmed or had some function.

Victorian bangle. Simple choice of colours made intricate by design. It almost seems like you could get away with wearing it alongside steampunk clothing but it is likely to clash in colouring with any clothes worn by steampunk characters into reds, maroons and oranges.

Victorian earrings. Black and silver, these give the impression of a great weight, similar to that of Victorian dresses. They could well be part of an outfit worn in high society.

Victorian Diamond and gold fly. Do I hear a cry of Steampunk? The style is very close to steampunk and so could also be a stepping stone piece as well as one worn in high society.

Victorian necklace and earrings. Jade, peal and either bronze or gold (I can't tell) are a classic Victorian combination, one not often seen in steampunk jewellery but one that could match certain steampunk outfits, at least with regards to colour.

Lockets were enormously popular during the Victorian era and this often carries over into steampunk stories. The above bronze, gold and black colours were popular but so was silver.

Pearl and gold Victorian necklace. This gives the impression of simplicity while being intricate, making it suitable for someone young being presented to older and of higher social position.

Victorian gold and diamond set. The intricacy and chunkiness of this can only be that of Victorian jewellry so such a style should really only be worn by older generations, those resistent to change and those being introduced into high-society.

Blue, white and silver Victorian pin. This could pass as either with a simple change of colour but it does belong with the Victorian set more than steampunk.

Victorian gold, sapphire and diamond ring. This could be worn during almost any time period but the chunkiness does allow it to match other Victorian jewellery perfectly. Because of this the above ring or some varient of it could be used as a charmed steampunk piece.

Intricate Victorian tiara. There's a definite style to Victorian tiaras so weaving them into purely steampunk stories may be difficult.

Victorian silver jewellery box. This could appear in either steampunk or Victorian set stories as this could be converted to steampunk with a simply addition of an inner gadget or locking device. That said, it would still suit steampunk stories set within Victorian England rather than a modern offshore or off-planet one.

Victorian amethyst, gold, silver and diamond brooch. This, despite appearances, is definitely for a Victorian story or a younger character determined to fit within Victorian ranks.

As to steampunk jewellery, you'll recognise it straight away simply because of the materials used and the frequent appearance of cog wheels, typewriter keys, ornate keys, miniature globe or globe-like objects and even insect or animal designs. Materials include what can often be found rolling around at the bottom of a tool box and they're as often chosen for being mismatched in colour as matched. Combining brass, silver, gold and bronze is fairly normal, especially if the piece is designed to look like a functioning clockwork gadget of some sort. Below are some examples to guide you in writing or creating your own.

Choosing which to wear or have your characters wear may be difficult if your intending to be or write a Victorian character now within steampunk society but with careful consideration of place, age, outfit and the desired purpose you can find just the right pieces.

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