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from the archive
Early VictorianHeart-ShapedMourning Locket

This exquisite late Georgian or early Victorian heart-shaped mourning locket features two lovely scenes composed using strands of human hair. One side features a pansy in a stylized leaf surround. "Pansy" comes from the French pense meaning "to think." Lovers of a hidden meaning, the five-petaled flower was frequently used in 18th and 19th century jewelry to express the sentiment "think of me." The obverse features a beautifully rendered mourning scene with a gravestone beneath a weeping willow. The use of hair in memorial or love token jewelry was incredibly common in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the days before the photograph, locks of hair (or incredible art works made from hair like this locket!) were a physical reminder of a loved one. The sentiment behind the use of hair in memorial jewelry is beautifully described in this quote from the 1860 Godey's Lady's Book: "Hair is at once the most delicate and lasting of our materials and survives us like love. It is so light, so gentle, so escaping from the idea of death, that, with a lock of hair belonging to a child or friend, we may almost look to heaven and compare notes with angelic nature, may almost say: 'I have a piece of thee here, not unworthy of thy being now.'"


  • Materials

    10k gold fittings (tests), hair and paint over vellum

  • Age

    c. 1840

  • Condition

    Excellent - a few tiny hairs out of place but close to perfect

  • Size

    1 3/8" long including the split ring bale, just a touch over 1" wide

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RelatedHistory Lesson

Pansies:Think of Me

Anthropomorphic, wild, and adorable, pansies were jubilantly translated into jewelry throughout the Victorian era.