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from the archive
GeorgianVinaigrettewith Locket

Personal cleanliness standards in the 19th century were not quite what they are today. Prior to the debunking of the myth that bathing was dangerous for the health, the widespread availability of soap and proper sewage treatment, people needed a way to guard against the unpleasant (often vile) odors encountered in living everyday life. Enter the vinaigrette! These tiny lockets with an open grille were designed to house a cloth or piece of cotton wool soaked in perfume that could be held to the nose in moments of olfactory assault. Sometimes the cloth would be doused in vinegar (which gives this utilitarian jewel its moniker) for its perceived medicinal qualities. This wonderfully ornate Georgian vinaigrette is fashioned in 14k gold with a photo locket at the front and and an engine turned panel at the back which opens to reveal a beautiful floral grille. Hangs from a new 18" 14k gold chain.


  • Materials

    14k gold (tests), glass, new 14k gold chain.

  • Age

    c. 1820

  • Condition

    Very good.

  • Size

    1.5" length including the bale, 1" diameter, 18" chain.

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RelatedHistory Lesson

Lockets:Magical, Medicinal, Memorial.

It’s hard to pinpoint when modern-day lockets were invented, but it’s believed that they evolved from ancient amulets.