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What’s the Deal with Victorian Death Jewelry?

Victorian death jewelry. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Victorians had some pretty strange ideas about things: like eating arsenic, which was supposed to make you have more beautiful skin.

They also had a macabre fascination with death and the rituals that surrounded it. Actually, I and a lot of other people find these sort of interesting-bordering on fascinating–but “death jewelry,” was new to me.

Victorian death jewelry.

There were pieces of jewelry made in black, like the rose brooch above (for sale on ebay), but also jewelry made with hair of the deceased, or made to hold a lock of a loved one’s hair. 

This article on Gizmodo’s site is fantastic and will give you a great overview of Victorian death jewelry. Short on time? Here are a few facts that I found most intriguing:

  1. Death jewelry was especially important because at the time there were no photographs. These pieces were used as a token to remind you of your loved one…who couldn’t be viewed while flipping through the family photo album.

  2. While black was the typical color of death jewelry in the Victorian age, white enamel was often used to remember an unmarried woman or a child. Pearls were also used often to remember children.

  3. Hair from the deceased was frequently used in mourning/death jewelry. It might be added to a locket and worn around the neck, or to a ring that a woman would wear daily. It was also sometimes used to create fobs for pocket watches (or added to the existing materials in the fob). This was especially popular with men.

What do you think? Creepy, sweet or somewhere in between? 

I find it interesting that some of these customs are coming back into vogue. Ashes from a loved one can now be added into glass products like paperweights, rings or pendants. There are lots of ways to memorialize your departed loved one or friend. Read more via this article on 23 Remarkable Things to Do With Ashes to Honor Your Loved One.


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