19th Century Bling: Goldfields Jewellery

Museums, History
19th Century Bling at MADE

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka glitters with rare gold from Ballarat's fascinating colonial era

Ballarat’s gold rush was an explosive time. The sudden influx of gold-hungry hopefuls from all over the world brought turmoil and change to Victoria’s political and social system, and saw a rise in innovative design and craftsmanship.

For the first time, Ballarat’s Museum of Democracy at Eureka has paired up with Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum to present more than 200 pieces of colonial jewellery from the goldfields. These rare and beautiful pieces tell stories of life at the time in all its rough and raucous glory; highlights include miners brooches depicting scenes of the goldfields and fob chains and shirt studs that they wore to display their wealth. The burgeoning jewellery trade also saw the rise of Australian motifs coming into fashion, such as local flora and fauna. A central part of the exhibition is the jewellery that was presented to and worn by famed actress Lola Montez, known for her risqué dance performances.

Aside from Bling, there are plenty of other reasons to visit MADE. The museum, which opened in 2013, provides an extraordinarily up-to-date and immersive look into issues around democracy today, as well as life in Ballarat from the gold rush era to today.

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