Svelte Stars : Chic French Antique Mourning Earrings in 18k and Jet


How is it that 19th Century mourning jewellery can be so very chic and now? These rare and gorgeous pair of French mourning earrings date to the era of Napoléon III 1852-1870. They would have been worn by a lady in her “first stage” of mourning – immediately following the death of a loved one – this may have been a child,  spouse or other close family member.

Today they are exceptionally ‘au courant’ – the perfect little everyday antiques. Exceptional workmanship and fine quality materials never do go out of style, and these small little statement pieces look fabulous with everything from smart business attire to jeans and a t-shirt, or your favourite little black dress.

Matte domed ‘buttons’ of fossilised jet have had stars skilfully carved into their smooth surface. The little stars catch the light and twinkle in a tastefully understated way.

Jet can be found in many countries, including France. A large seam similar in quality to Whitby jet was found in Aude in the South of France in 18th century which was mined to exhaustion. It is possible that these lovely pieces are made of Aude jet.

The ear wires fasten at the front of the earring in a style that was popular in France and other European countries during this period, and often referred to as dormeuse, or front-to-back earrings. They are made of 18ct yellow gold. You can find the tiny French 18ct hallmark of an eagle head. You can also see the makers cartouche, but I have not been able to correlate it with a specific jeweller. The earrings wires are in perfect antique condition.


The earrings measure 9.3mm diameter x 6.7mm deep (not including the ear wire) and weigh 1.6 grams.

These are beautifully made and in wonderful antique condition – they look as if they have almost never been worn.

Hallmarks: Solid 18k. The earrings are hallmarked with the French Tete d’Aigle, the mark for jewellery in 18 karat gold. The front latching wires operate perfectly. These are in very fine antique condition


Additional information


Napoléon III


Jet is 9.3mm diameter, 6.7mm deep.
Weight is 1.6 grams for the pair.


18ct yellow gold, Fossilised Jet (Whitby Jet)