Mourning Jewellery
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MOURNING JEWELLERY Mourning or memorial jewellery has been worn since the middle ages and became popular in the 15th and 16th century in England.
Until the 18th century it generally consisted of gold and black enamel with early examples in black and white often in the form of a skull.
From 1770, forms became lighter and more graceful, often incorporating hair in their designs.In the early 18th century fine scrolled rings were made with white enamel for a single person and black for a married person.
The deceased name age and date of birth and death were written around the shank of the ring.A loved ones hair was plaited and set under the crystal or glass on the back of a brooch or ribbon slide.
At the end of the 18th century rings and brooches depicted funereal urns and ivory plaques in blue black or white enamel set with diamonds ,pastes ,pearls etc.
During and after the Regency period, chains ,rings, pendants and brooches were made from finely plaited hair from the head of the deceased.

In the 19th century with the demise of Prince Albert in 1861,mourning dress was worn by a widow for a year and a day, followed by 9 months of half mourning

Favourite symbols used in mourning jewellery included forget-me-nots, flowers, hearts, crosses, and ivy leaves, these replaced the earlier more macabre symbols of skulls, coffins, and gravestones.
Many memorial pieces bear the inscription "in memory of".Jet jewellery made from fossilized wood was an acceptable commodity often worn for mourning and coral and pearls were allowed at court as half mourning jewellery,stained horn, bog oak and black glass known as French jet were also used

SENTIMENTAL JEWELLERY This was worn by men and women around 1800 representing love of the living or the dead
Locks of hair were often used either set into rings or lockets or woven into braid for necklaces ,bracelets and watch chains
Miniature portraits or silhouettes worn on or inside pieces of jewellery were popular,as was the eye miniature and the heart or padlock and key

The symbol of eternity was the snake with its tail in its mouth
LOVE Lapis, Opal, Vermeil(Garnet), and Emerald ,the first letter of each stone spells the word love

FLOWER JEWELLERY From early Victorian jewellery to the present day, flowers have been represented in jewellery and each has a special meaning.

Forget me notTrue love.
Lily of the valleySweetness.
PoppyHealth and success.
AcornsLife and immortality.
Sweet peaGoodbye.


Key and heart lockets are romantic mementoes ." The key to the heart" also love birds sitting on tree branches. Wedding rings were often engraved on the inside with dates or romantic messages. Lovers knots and hearts were used in rings and brooches and pendants and often had a message in precious stones "souvenir d,amour" or "souvenir d,amitie".
Regard and dearest rings would be spelt in coloured stones, ruby,emerald,garnet,amethyst,ruby,diamond or diamond,emerald,amethyst,ruby,emerald,sapphire,topaz.
Until about 1850 these would sometimes include a miniature painting of the giver, or a lock of hair.
Various lucky plants began to appear in jewellery from acorns, holly, ivy,4 leaf clover,mistletoe and heather and parting lovers would be presented with a Mizpah ring.This name is from a quotation of genesis "the lord watcheth between me and thee when we are apart one from another."

BOWS AND LOVERS KNOTS Since the end of the Middle Ages knots have been used in jewellery design
In the 16th century Friars knots which consisted of 3 knots representing the Trinity and vows of poverty chastity and obedience were used in the making of jewellery
The lovers knot which represented a bond until death, was like a figure of eight

The bow then appeared in creative jewellery and in the 17th century these were made of silk and attached to clothing to display a small jewel
Later these bows were made in precious metals ,stone set and enamelled

JEWELLED BOUQUETS In Paris in 1770 jewelled bouquets were fashionable and flower jewels were very popular in Europe for the 2nd half of the century
Extravagent brooches up to 20cm in length were made, these were often enamelled and tied with gem set bows, the flower heads set with precious and semi precious stones or foil backed diamonds to reflect different colours
Some of these flowers or even insects ,incorporated into the design were set on springs to enable them to tremble and sparkle

NOVELTY JEWELLERY 1860 to the present day
The Victorians loved eccentric jewellery ,earrings in the shape of windmills, cooking pots and watering cans
Sports brooches and pins featuring tennis racquets, golf clubs ,fish and fishing rods ,boats and oars, guns ,birds ,horses and other animals

Deers teeth, tigers claws, grouse claws, feathers and irridescent beetles were all mounted as jewellery, some were even designed to move with the addition of a small battery

CUT STEEL Made from the 17th century to 1940 brightly polished steel studs fastened to a steel backplate were fashioned into all sorts of jewellery
The studs were riveted or screwed into place

English jewellers exported this very popular commodity and by the 19th century France, Italy, Prussia, Spain, and Russia were producing it
It was very fashionable and used by noblemen and the Empress Josephine, even to the point of being copied in silver

BERLIN IRON WORK 1796 to 1850 delicate lace like jewellery was produced by Prussian Royal iron foundries from moulten iron
In 1806 Napoleon defeated Prussia and took patterns from the foundry to Paris

Requests were made by the Prussian Royal family for donations of gold jewellery to help the war effort and in return citizens were given iron jewellery
The castings were treated with linseed cakes which left a black coating on the metal

RINGS a ring is a circle of platinum, gold, silver ,or any other material which can be worn on the finger ,thumb, or toe
It can be plain or gemset
The band is called the shank and the raised gemset part is called the bezel

Men and women have worn them since the third millenium BC in both Eastern and Western cultures

Rings were originally used as money but in Roman times many rings were worn, including a simple guard ring which was used to keep more valuable rings in place

In the 16th century women wore rings sewn into their dresses or strung on a piece of ribbon around their neck

Engagement or betrothal rings have been used since Roman times but wedding rings only in the 19th century

Mourning rings were worn by a loved one in memory of someone who had died
Keeper rings were the same as guard rings and sergeant rings were given by barristers to officials when they were appointed sergeant at law

Devotional rings have a holy name or sacred monogram on them

Papal rings were given to pilgrims visiting the Vatican and Ecclesiastical rings were worn by dignitaries

Signet rings were used to authenticate documents whilst key rings had the ward of a key on them