Celebrating 100 years of the Suffragette Movement

Celebrating 100 years of the Suffragette movement and the significance of a jewellery.

In 1908 the co-editor of ‘Votes for Women’, Emmeline Pethick-Lawerence, designed the Suffragette colour scheme of purple/violet, white and green.  Purple/violet stood for loyalty, white for purity and green for hope and as well as being the emblem for Spring.

However, the colours were also code for ‘Give Women the Vote’; G for green, W for white and V for violet.

It was important for the Suffragettes to be feminine in their appearance and not to appear too manish, as the opposition like to render them.  Dresses were made with delicate fabrics worn with a purple and green sache.  Christabel Pankhurst implored; ‘Suffragettes must not be dowdy’.

Merchandise, therefore, had to be in keeping and the tri-colours proved to be a significant factor in the financial success of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) and gained them a stronger political advantage.  Mappin & Webb also released a collection o f Suffragette jewellery for Christmas 1908.  Brooches and badges were worn in support of the movement with commissions made in honour of the Suffragettes who were imprisoned for their cause.  Notably the Holloway Brooch, which is now showcased in the London Museum.

Yesterday, women in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London also donned the tri-colours as part of a mass procession; marching together to create a living artwork and celebrating 100 years since the first British women won the vote.

It is seemly that jewellery was used as a powerful yet subtle statement to enhance a point, share sentiment and show solidarity.  Times have not changed all that much; brooches and bracelets are sold and worn to show support to charities and good causes, even the poppy is also a brooch/pin.  Jewellery will, therefore, always be an important statement, not just in fashion or nostalgia but for consensus and unity.


Sources: The Jeweller, Women HIstory Bites, BBC News.