Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > History

Expressions of Love Through the Ages

love tokens in jewellery

Love and romance has been a subject that has been woven into the design of jewellery for centuries and has influenced the motifs and forms used throughout history.

In the Roman times the god of love was Cupid, a winged figure who carried bow and arrows and often a harp so he could play beautiful music. This image was often carved into hard gemstones and set into gold intaglio rings. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros, the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

In the Viking period reef knots and serpents were used in jewellery to symbolise eternal love and fidelity. The idea was the ring was a continuous circle symbolising eternal love as it had no beginning or end.

During the Medieval times fede or gimmel rings became an important symbol of love. ‘Mani in fede’ comes from the Italian meaning ‘hands joined in loyalty or faith’. The fede motif symbolised the marriage union, as the joining of hands in a handshake marked the consecration of the marriage ceremony.

Into the Victorian era symbolic romanticism's represented the romance shared between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He gave her a serpent engagement ring which was set with an exquisite emerald. The serpent motif was chosen by Albert because the coiled snake represented never-ending love. Victoria was also versed in the language of flowers and received an orange blossom sprig from Albert as an engagement present. The orange blossom which flowers as it fruits represented fruitfulness.

In the Belle Époque and Art Nouveau periods a two stone ring known as a ‘toi et moi' ring became increasingly popular, this style combined the symbolism of both stones within one. It represented the romantic idea of the entwining of two souls.

Love has been represented by many forms over the decades and the jewellery throughout has incorporated these themes. Today the most iconic motif of love is the heart and it symbolises friendship and devotion. The most powerful and significant of all hearts used in jewellery were the versions that embodied deep, romantic and enduring love. Use of the heart shape to represent love was first reported at the end of the Middle Ages. It became increasingly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries and has become widely used in jewellery design ever since.

This Valentine’s day come and visit us at Berganza or view our collection online to find a symbolic treasure ready to be used in your very own love story.

Antique garnet and pearl snake necklace berganza hatton garden
Antique garnet and pearl set snake necklace, circa 1880.
Ref: 18691
Antique ruby and diamond crossover ring hatton garden berganza
Edwardian Burmese ruby and diamond crossover ring, English, circa 1905.
Ref: 26551
Art Nouveau sapphire and pearl necklace berganza hatton garden
Art Nouveau sapphire and pearl necklace, French, circa 1900.
Ref: 24703
Tiffany Co ruby diamond heart necklace hatton garden
Tiffany & Co. ruby and diamond heart necklace, American, circa 1980.
Ref: 22076
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Updated 19/05/2024 at 1:34PM

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