One of my bêtes noires is the misnaming of any vaguely Edwardian piece of jewellery that comprises stones approximating to some shade of purple (or pink or red), white and green as ‘suffragette’. I have long ago ceased remonstrating with reputable auction houses – they should know better. Ebay, of which one cannot expect very much, is, of course, rife with a lack of historical awareness.
While such pieces may be decorative and even of some intrinsic value, I would be very sorry if anyone paid over the odds for a piece of such jewellery thinking that they were buying an association with the suffrage movement. There are plenty of unscrupulous or ignorant dealers who peddle such notions. I think the term ‘suffragette jewellery’ should be reserved for pieces that have a provenance associated with a suffrage society or an individual who either made or wore it with ‘suffrage’ intent.
Above is an example of what I mean – a ‘true’ piece of suffragette jewellery – a silver and enamel pendant, bearing the ‘Angel of Freedom’ device designed in 1908 by Sylvia Pankhurst. I bought – and sold it – some years ago – and have never found another. As second best to owning the real thing, I have ever since used the image on my trade cards.
I will tell the stories of some other pieces of ‘true’ suffragette jewellery in future ‘Collecting Suffrage’ posts.
Here and here are two articles that attempt to demistify the subject of ‘suffragette jewellery’. Or you can read the entry on ‘Jewllery and Badges’ in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.