Jewelry serves us in so many ways; it’s been part of almost every culture throughout the history of mankind as far back as pre-historic times. It’s meaning in my life alone serves many different needs and I speculate that is true for many people. From the least interested in jewelry peasant farming man to the most heavily endowed Queen with a treasure trove of priceless gems; there is a gamut of need for ornamentation in all cultures.
Even if only a simple metal band to signal a marital status, there is sentiment behind much of what we choose to adorn ourselves with. Nothing strikes a chord in my heart deeper than the sentimentality and sacredness of memorial jewelry.
Many know my love of what I call ‘Reliquary’ jewelry is based on ‘Mourning’ jewelry that existed primarily from the Georgian period up through the Victorian age. The fashion reached a fevered pitch during queen Victoria’s mourning of her beloved Prince Albert. It was very popular to wear a locket of a beloved’s hair painstakingly woven and tightly bound beneath beveled glass. The art of Mourning jewelry took on many forms from the carving of ‘Jet’ a black hard material made of wood and minerals densely packed and petrified under pressure of time and weight. The use of black enamel on gold pieces with such themes as crosses, Roman numeral dates of the death, and even images of skulls and crossed bones were common. Hair was the most common feature in much of this genre. It is seen beautifully woven under glass in lockets and brooches, but also in more elaborate ‘flower arrangements’ and even in the form of braided bands for bracelets and dangling earrings.
It is very interesting how hair in modern culture became degraded from its use as a sacred decoration to something dirty and creepy. Most people cringe at the mere thought of hair kept in any form.
I never advertised my offering of creating sacred memorial jewelry to my customers, they have always just asked, then word of mouth and common sense lead them to my studio. As you see in so many of my designs with floating stones or gold objects floating under glass, the imagination leads one to realize the potential for customization and voila!
I am proud to say that I have worked with people during some very emotionally trying times and created jewelry to help family members hold close to them a part of a loved one that has passed away unexpectedly. I have used hair and ashes from deceased people in rings and lockets. I have done this with deceased animals as well. At this point I have begun to do more work with pet ashes than that of human, however the sentiment is just as personal and strong. Equally as precious is the use of hair from that of the living, this seems to be most popular with baby’s hair in a locket as a gift for the mother.
In a similar vein to the ‘living’ locket is that of the ‘protection’ locket. I have been drawn to stones not only for their beauty but for their healing and protective powers as well. In working with a friend and stone ‘Guru’ I have made amulets for friends and clients with very powerful stones to be worn during important situations where protections is required. It may sound a bit fanciful to many of you but I know it to be true!
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