Mourning jewellery has been first recorded since the 16th Century. The wearing of such Jewellery is a significant way of expressing the love or revealing a memory of those we have lost. It is also a beautiful act of giving to somebody whom we love and hold dear to us. Wearing mourning jewellery creates a physical connection between the living and the departed.
The trend for wearing mourning jewellery really peaked after the death of Prince Albert. Queen Victoria was so devastated after the death of her husband she went into a forty year period of mourning. Queen Victoria wore sentimental pieces of jewellery as well as black clothing for years. She also insisted those close to her wear mourning dress. This has seen the rise in the trend of Victorian mourning jewellery.
Black jewellery became fashionable; jet, fossilised coal, black vulcanite, black glass, black enamel and bog oak all mediums used in creating mourning jewellery. Hair work is another form of mourning and sentimental jewellery. Bracelets, rings and necklaces were made from woven hair. This was a lovely way for the deceased to still have a connection with the living person wearing the piece. Often the initials were discreetly woven into the object.
Lockets are another popular way for people to express their love and sense of loss for the death of a loved one.Lockets mean that a person can wear a lock of hair or a small portrait photograph around their neck, holding them close to their hearts. Lockets were also worn to remember passed monarchs. Carved cameos and silhouettes were another way to remember somebody who has passed. Sentimental items of jewellery can also have engraved messages such as the name and date of the person who has died.
Mourning jewellery was not only limited to women. Men could also wear memory items such as cufflinks and pocket watch fobs with the deceased persons hair braided in or even an engraved message.
The materials and colours used in the jewellery could also hold different meaning and significance. White enamel hinted that the deceased was an unmarried woman and even a virgin. Pearls symbolised the loss of a child. Different colours of jewellery could also reflect different stages of grief.
So there we have it, a brief look at the world of sentimental mourning jewellery. A stunning form of Art.Â I always find this type of jewellery so fascinating; it so beautifully provides us with a glimpse into the secret world of days gone by. This tradition of remembering people through the wearing of jewellery is still popular and takes place all over the world today.