After learning all about hair art and how it was used to celebrate weddings, births, graduations and eventually burials, I found myself venturing down the path of mourning jewelry.
The culture of mourning jewelry goes way back. And only seemed to fade from fashion with the invention of photography. The sentiment behind a ring was as much for the living as it was to remember the dead. “Remember you must die” was commonly quoted when these pieces of jewelry were passed out at the funerals.
A small snatch of prose that I saw inscribed on one ring was. “Drop the tear of sensibility on the grave of virtue.”
These rings were usually made with black enamel, but if they had pearls interwoven in the design, than they represented the loss of a child. If the ring was made with white enamel, then the deceased was probably a woman and a virgin. If the ring had a diamond, then it was a sure sign the family was wealthy.
Hair was often incorporated into the art. If it wasn’t placed directly into the ring, then the hair was often pulverized and mixed into the paint.
Men also wore these touchstones of their grief in decorated cuff links and watch fobs with their beloved’s hair woven in. Most are beautiful, and the sense of deep loss can be felt even now, hundreds of years later.
I found several samples of modern day mourning jewelry on Etsy, as well as some vintage pieces for sale, including these that are made of a lost loved ones teeth.
And then I had to check out what the fad changed to with the onset of photos.
I would most definitely prefer the mourning jewelry to the more shocking death photography.
I only posted one of the death photographs because the picture made the loss too real and too personal for me. But if you want to see more, here is a link to a BBC article about death photography. I also found that there are services out there now for death photography.
Would you ever consider having a piece of mourning jewelry made? Do you find the tokens are more beautiful then macabre? Have you ever had a piece of mourning jewelry made? Would you ever consider death photography?
Hopefully I didn't shock you too much. If you'd like to know more about me and what I'm up to then you can see the bio details below.
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Cara Grandle is a Historical Romance Novelist who prefers to write about the early settlers of the Pacific Northwest. Think trappers and loggers and scroungy-backed woodsmen. She is represented by the Steve Laube Agency. Cara leads the author4TheAuthor writers group on Facebook, home to 190 writers. Together they're pressing back on busy and making a space for their dreams. Cara is currently out on submission. Follow her journey on her Facebook author page. Prayers much appreciated.