In honour of Valentine’s Day this Friday, we are taking a look at some of the less well known examples of love jewellery rather than hearts and diamonds.
In fact it seems we shouldn’t be thinking red or diamonds when it comes to symbolising love in jewellery. The gemstone apparently most associated with love is rose quartz. So if you have any of that stone on your stall or online shop this is the week to promote it.
A lot of love related jewellery comes from the idea of giving a token to a loved one if you are going to be separated.
For example, Mizpah Jewellery – the name comes from the Hebrew meaning an emotional bond between people who are separated – has a long history but became popular during the Victorian era. The word was often inscribed on brooches or rings featuring heart or flowers as well as on mourning jewellery. During both the Boer War and World War I, soldiers and sailors often gave Mizpah gifts to loved ones when they departed to war.
Mizpah jewelery has a long history as a gift to a loved one
“Love token” jewellery, which people now collect, also has a long history, dating back to the British Isles in the 1800s before becoming popular in the US. Love tokens are coins where one side polished to smooth and engraved with initials or message – attached to brooches, stick pins, and chains.
Love token jewellery is traditionally made from coins
A coin was of course an accessible piece of metal to create a piece of jewellery on which to work and examples range from small denominations up to gold pieces. The engravings range from simple initials up to detailed patterns round names. Read more in an interesting account here.
In some ways they are the fore-runners of metal clay charms featuring fingerprints, baby hand prints, child’s drawings or even the signature of a loved one you are parted from.
Metal clay may be the modern equivalent of love token and Mizpah jewellery
Not all love jewellery is about parting or remembrance.
Another piece of jewellery with a long history is the Claddagh ring. This traditional Irish jewellery style has become popular in recent years but dates back to at least 1700. The rings feature a heart (love) held between two hands (friendship), sometimes with a crown (faithfulness) above it and is a pledge, engagement and wedding ring all in one depending on how it’s worn.
The Claddagh symbols of the heart meaning love, hands meaning friendship and the crown faithfulness could be used in other forms of jewellery
On the right hand, if the point of the heart is the fingertips, it means the wearer is single and may be looking for love, whereas pointing towards the wrist means they are in a relationship.
Similarly on the left hand, the point towards the fingertips means engagement and towards the wrist means the wearer is married.