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Victorian Times: Collecting Antique Bohemian Garnet Jewelry Guide

Tanzy Ward

Before World War I (1914-1918), the Czech Republic was formally the historic region of Bohemia. One of the most famous Victorian gemstones was sourced in Bohemia, which began mining and exporting Bohemian garnet during the Middle Ages. Bohemian garnet was not only a beautiful gemstone used in 19th-century accessories, but it was also cost-effective compared to diamonds and other precious stones. The metals used in Bohemian Garnet jewelry were more economical and cost-effective. Victorian Bohemian garnet jewelry became a popular costume trend, and its distinctive beauty is still heavily curated and worn. 
Antique Victorian Era Bohemian Garnet beaded necklace and intricate gold-toned ornate scarf pin with rubies
Bohemian garnet is considered one of the highest-quality garnets, and after the Industrial Revolution boom of the 19th century, various designs were advertised in jewelry catalogs. Buyers could choose from different types of Bohemian garnet pieces, including intricately designed garnet brooches, bracelets, earrings, and pendants. After the birth of manufacturing and advancements in metalwork, non-wealthy citizens could now afford precious stone jewelry that was mass-produced. Victorian ladies paired laced ornate garnet pins with their scarfs and favored pierced garnet dangle earrings with kidney wire hooks. Since Bohemian Garnet jewelry was considered a high-quality stone, catalogs often advertised the pieces as 'Genuine Bohemian Garnet' to ensure readers received authentic pieces. 
  E. V. Roddin & Co Jewelry catalog featuring various Bohemian Garnet Designs; 1888.
 E. V. Roddin & Co Jewelry catalog featuring various Bohemian Garnet Designs; 1888.

When collecting Bohemian garnet jewelry, there are certain specific characteristics to analyze. One must examine the visual qualities closely to confirm if a piece is Bohemian Garnet. Generally, it is relatively easy to determine whether jewelry is genuinely Bohemian garnet, and dating the era can also be less daunting. With accurate reviews and an eye for detail, collecting Victorian Bohemian Garnet jewelry can be plentiful and relatively easy.

 Antique Victorian Bohemian Garnet beaded necklace with adjustable tassel fringe closer. Courtesy of the Zanathia Jewelry Collection (archive). 


  1. Examine the color of the garnet. Bohemian garnets are generally either a ruby or fiery red color. Garnets tend to be very transparent and sparkle. The stone will contain a high refraction of light.
  2. Study the arrangement and design of the garnets. Many 19th-century Bohemian Garnet jewelry artisans emphasized the intricate details of jewelry. Each formation enclosing the Bohemian Garnet jewelry piece often features a cluster design that showcases minimal metalwork. This pavé setting is one of the most distinguishing features of Bohemian Garnet jewelry. Victorian Era Bohemian Garnet jewelry pieces tend to resemble pomegranates with their opulent hue and rose designs.  
  3. When purchasing authentic Bohemian Garnet jewelry, please review the settings to determine its age. For brooches and pins, examine the backing closely. Typically, the safety pin will extend beyond the catch. Original Victorian clasps include tube and c-clasp hinges. Around 1890, the safety catch was invented to secure brooches and pins better. Early safety catches were handmade. Victorian Era brooches/pins usually have simple handmade clasps. Although there are modern reproductions of Victorian garnet jewelry, 19th-century Era pierced earrings usually had long, simple looped wires for pierced ears or threaded posts. Screw-backs for non-pierced earrings were invented during the 1890s and patented in 1894.



13th annual Busiest House in America jewelry catalog featuring Victorian Bohemian Garnet Dangle Earrings; 1889;


13th annual Busiest House in America jewelry catalog featuring Victorian Bohemian Garnet pendants and neck chains; 1889;



Bohemian Garnet jewelry is still one of the most curated Victorian jewelry trends and is routinely worn in modern times. Many present-day designs have incorporated 19th-century Bohemian Garnet trends in their jewelry, and Victorian reproduction pieces are highly marketed. Finding an authentic Victorian Bohemian Garnet piece is not only a fantastic rare accessory, but it is also historically significant. Since Bohemia was dissolved in 1918, it is fascinating to possess a part of history connected to many stories and memories. The beauty and history of Bohemian Garnet jewelry will continue to be a leading antique trend collected and loved by many.

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