Love and Lockets

Antique gold locket, French, circa 1890.
Ref: 15294

Saturday 10th July 2010

Jewels containing concealed compartments have been popular for centuries, most commonly functioning as tokens of love.  Prior to the nineteenth century various forms of jewellery hid locks of hair, portrait miniatures and other mementos.  However, in the mid to late nineteenth century the pendant locket came into vogue.  Influenced by a number of factors, including the invent of photography, which made miniature images more accessible to the greater public, the Romantic movement, which promoted sentimental objects, and new technology, which allowed for the increased production of jewellery, lockets became highly fashionable.  Queen Victoria—perhaps the greatest trend-setter of her day—often wore lockets.  One of her most coveted jewels was a charm bracelet set with nine enamelled heart-shaped lockets, each one containing a lock of hair of the royal children, first given to her by Prince Albert in 1846, with the lockets added as the children were born (now in the Royal Collection).  She also gave lockets as presents, and they soon became the gift of choice for sentimental occasions, such as from a bride to her bridesmaids, and to mark other occasions such as birthdays, in addition to being a present exchanged between lovers.  Due to their romantic associations, lockets were often decorated with symbols of love, such as flowers (each variety with its own romantic symbolism), birds, ribbons (symbolising the bonds of love), and serpents (eternal love), or were in a romantic shape, such as a heart, as seen in Victoria’s bracelet.  Lockets were typically worn either on a chain or ribbon around the neck, or on a bracelet, as a charm, again as already exemplified.  A testament to their sentimental allure, lockets have remained popular throughout the twentieth century up to the present day.


Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe, Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria:  A Mirror to the World, London:  The British Museum Press, 2010.


Antique heart shaped pearl set locket in 15ct yellow gold, circa 1900.
Ref: 15151
9ct gold locket.
Ref: 4925
Black enamel and gold locket, French.
Ref: 14857
De Vernon Art Nouveau gold locket, Paris, 1895.
Ref: 12175
Piqué locket, English, circa 1860.
Ref: 15933
Antique three picture gold locket, French circa 1900.
Ref: 14734
Antique heart shaped padlock with locket, circa 1840.
Ref: 14831
Antique yellow gold locket.
Ref: 14609
Antique natural pearl pendant with a diamond set blue enamel pansy.
Ref: 10686
Antique diamond set 'tennis' locket, circa 1905.
Ref: 13896
Antique emerald, sapphire and diamond set locket, circa 1890.
Ref: 11554

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