Antique Victorian mourning bracelet in onyx and gold

Mourning Jewellery

Mourning jewellery was made and worn to commemorate the death of a loved one. It was a common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was often given as a gift to the bereaved as a way to express condolences and provide comfort to those left behind.

Antique Mourning Lockets in Gold and Enamel

One common type of mourning jewellery is the "in memory of" locket. These are small pendants that contain a photograph or lock of hair from the deceased.

They were often worn around the neck as a way to keep the memory of the loved one close at all times. Some people also wore these lockets on a bracelet or pinned to their clothing as a way to remember and honour those that had passed away.

Mourning Brooch and Onyx Bracelet

Mourning jewellery was often made of materials like onyx and jet, a type of black fossilised coal, or black enamel, as these were seen as appropriate colors for mourning. Many pieces of mourning jewelry also featured intricate engravings or etchings, often with symbols like anchors or urns, which were meant to symbolise hope or eternal life. Some mourning jewellery will contain a lock of hair or braided hair of the loved one lost as a keepsake - perhaps morbid by today’s standards but in an era when photographs were not commonplace, one can understand the importance of keeping a memory.

In addition to "in memory" lockets, other types of mourning jewellery included rings, brooches, pendants and bracelets

Antique mourning rings with hairwork

Some people also wore black clothing and accessories, such as black ribbons or armbands, as a sign of mourning.

Today, mourning jewellery is not as common as it once was, but it is still possible to find pieces from this period in antique stores or online. Some people still choose to wear mourning jewellery as a way to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away. Others collect this exquisite jewellery and yet others simply love the beauty of this jewellery and choose to wear it bereaved or not!

See our collection of mourning jewellery

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