Lately I've found myself utterly obsessed with mourning jewellery . I know i'm late to the game and I honestly never really ‘got’ it up until a few months ago, but once I bought my first piece i was hooked ! I think there is something hauntingly beautiful about Victorian jewellery in general, and mourning jewellery adds another layer of mystique to the Gothic vibe I often get when looking at a piece of jewellery from that era.
Lockets with eerie black and white photographs, almandine brooches with plaited hair and even watch chains coiled into the most intricate and amazing hair work . I mean it is pretty creepy right ? Your wearing someone's hair. But it's also kind of beautiful and intimately personal . I'm always left wondering who were you ? Who loved you this much to create an everlasting symbol of you to keep close to their heart ? Some of the most beautiful pieces of jewellery I have seen are Georgian and Victorian mourning rings . The intricacy of the work is mind blowing . Secret compartments with enamel writing, engraving, glass panes enclosing little plaits of hair and even hair work encircling the whole ring . Its amazing the sort of jewellery created and I find it so intriguing .
As mentioned in my ‘where do charms come from?’ post we have Queen Victoria to thank again for ramping up the fashion that was mourning jewellery . Mourning jewellery was already around but it was after Prince Albert's death in 1861 that mourning jewellery became even more popular and in vogue . Think of black clothing, whitby jet brooches and the cheaper alternative french jet which is essentially black glass. All these pieces and styles are highly collectible today , but why is this ? What is our keen need to look back into the past and go as far as wearing someone's hair in a pretty brooch that has been deceased for minimum of 100 years ?
I think there is something rare and exclusive about owning a piece of jewellery that cannot be replicated and most things can be, but you can't replicate someone's hair . I think it would also be tricky to copy the intricate designs from that era, and the hair-work especially is a skill i believe has waned along with the fashion of wearing hair in jewellery . For me mourning jewellery is sentimental, not all of the hair in lockets and brooches is from an at-that-time deceased relative and might also be from a sweetheart or beloved child. The memento mori pieces are just so beautifully made and hard to find, that the desire to own a piece of history like that with a person's hair from that actual time is pretty thrilling.
I am always most excited lately to find mourning jewellery and this is a little obsession i'm going to roll with for now, especially with autumn and Halloween approaching where I feel ‘creepy’ lockets and rings of hair are most definitely appropriate. If you follow me on Instagram (@charliesvintagecharms) I’ve been drip feeding you all little sneak peaks and hints of the jewellery I will be stocking from September 1st. Its a collection I have designed specifically in mind with the poll you all answered last month on jewellery for autumn, and bits I think are perfect for the season ( hint hint : rubies, garnets and mourning jewellery are coming your way !).
I hope you enjoyed that little chat on mourning jewellery, a topic I hope to cover in more depth eventually . I would love to hear your thoughts on mourning jewellery, do you like it too ?