Saturday, January 6, 2024

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

The “Great War” or “The War to End All Wars,” sent young men across the globe to fight. In addition to letters, many of the soldiers sent keepsakes home to families and girlfriends. Dubbed “sweetheart jewelry,” the items were often handcrafted while in the trenches. Twenty years later, the world was again at war, and the custom of sending these pieces flourished. By this time, a large percentage of the items were machine-made and sold to U.S. soldiers.

Despite the moniker, sweetheart jewelry wasn’t just given to girlfriends. Mothers and sisters also received items from sons and brothers. Brooches, pendants, and bracelets were the most popular pieces, but with many base metals being tightly rationed, the jewelry was manufactured with Bakelite (a resin), celluloid, wood, mother-of-pearl, shell, ivory, rhinestones, enamel, and sometimes wire. Because it wasn’t rationed, sterling silver became popular among jewelers. Rarer pieces were made with platinum, silverplate, brass, gold plate, gold-filled, and even solid gold.

There are three main reasons the jewelry was popular.

First and perhaps foremost, it was fashionable. Under tight rationing, new clothes and accessories were difficult to obtain. Rules were strict about the amount of fabric that could be used to construct garments therefore, ruffles, pleats, and other embellishments became a thing of the past. Pinning a brooch on a lapel or wearing a locket gave the wearer a little bit of glitz to an otherwise unadorned outfit.

Secondly, sweetheart jewelry was patriotic. Many of the pieces featured military insignia and other
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icons related to a loved one’s branch of service with the flag and the American eagle were most often depicted. Uncle Sam’s top hat, bows mimicking ribbon of the stars and stripes, and the victory “V” were also favorite motifs. The slogan "Remember Pearl Harbor" found its way onto many pins, often accented with a pearl.

Not jewelry, but an item most women wouldn’t be caught without was the compact, so manufacturers created patriotic-themed ones. The small mirrored cases could also be found in oval, square, rectangular or heart-shaped, with a few creative designs such as the shape of an officer’s hat. No matter what shape or size, sweetheart jewelry trumpeted “as we did in the past, we’ll get through this.”

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Thirdly, sweetheart jewelry was popular because it reflected a sense of service. Women proudly wore the pin version of a "man-in-service" flag, the blue star in the center, on a white background, with a red border, to indicate a son or husband in service. The service pins, more rarely, could have two or three stars, and rarer yet, could contain a gold star to indicate a death in service.

Economic hardships had gripped the country for nearly a decade, and the price of jewelry and related items such as those made of sterling silver could be somewhat expensive. On top of that, the government levied a luxury tax on jewelry adding to the cost, but sales didn’t seem to suffer. It was more important for the women who received these items to create a connection with their loved ones thousands of miles away.


Love at First Flight

Can two people emerge from the clouds of past hurt to find a silver lining of love?

Evelyn Reid would rather fly than do anything else, so when war engulfs the U.S., she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. One of the program’s top pilots, she is tapped for pursuit plane training...the dream of a lifetime until she discovers the instructor is her ex-fiancé, Jasper MacPherson.

Collecting enough points to rotate stateside, fighter pilot Jasper MacPherson is assigned to teach the WAFS how to fly the army way. Bad enough to be training women, but things take a turn for the worse when his former fiancée shows up as one of his students.

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Linda Shenton Matchett writes happily-ever-after historical Christian fiction about second chances and women who overcome life’s challenges to be better versions of themselves.

Whether you choose her books set in the Old West or across the globe during WWII, you will be immersed in the past through rich detail. Follow the journeys of relatable characters whose faith is sorely tested, yet in the end, emerge triumphant. Be encouraged in your own faith-walk through stories of history and hope.


  1. Thanks for this interesting post. I especially loved learning about the jewelry and seeing the picture of the 'Remember Pearl Harbor' pin. One of the flag raisers in Iwo Jima was a young man from my Kentucky county and we're very proud of Franklin D. Sousley!

    1. One of the other flag raisers was a NH native, Rene Gagnon, and he is very well known here.

  2. Thank you for posting today, this was interesting! It would be fun to come across one of these items! Happy New Year to you and your family.

  3. What an interesting post, especially the Pearl Harbor pin.

  4. I've never stumbled across this historical tidbit! Super interesting! Thanks, Linda.

    1. There's so much WWII history. Will we ever know it all? I love the challenge of discover new information.