Jewellery is more than often a sentimental possession, but when one encloses an image or lock of hair from a loved one within it, the piece becomes all the more precious. Whether it be as a declaration of love, or to honour the memory of someone close to your heart, lockets hold immense emotion, hand-crafted with care and intricate detail.
During the Tudor era, having a finely painted miniature portrait of your loved one held within a locket became popular practice. It was executed by extremely talented miniature painters, using a paint brush as fine as a hair’s width. This technique was not only popular in necklace form, but also in brooches, pins and even rings. An exquisite example of a ring locket was owned by Queen Elizabeth I. Adorned with Mother of Pearl and Rubies, the head of the ring head opens to reveal two tiny painted pictures side by side, one of the Queen and one of her late mother, Anne Boleyn.
When Charles I died in 1649, lockets were given more sentimental value as they began to be used on a wider scale by royal subjects, to pay respects to their King. Miniature portraits of His Majesty were set into rings and lockets and were worn by the public, although at risk of persecution. Therefore, lockets which closed and concealed their interior were ideal.
The Victorian era is where we see lockets reach their peak of popularity. This was largely due to Prince Albert’s iconic gift to Queen Victoria of a bracelet that had eight lockets attached to it, each containing a lock of hair from one of their eight children. Following Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria wore a large locket around her neck, which held a portrait of her late husband, along with a lock of his hair. During this period, locket jewellery was decorated using black enamel, pearls, diamonds and garnets.
As technology developed, photography began to replace the practice of miniature portraiture. For example, as the country entered both the first and Second World War, it became common practice for young men to gift their sweetheart a locket containing their photograph as a reminder during their time apart.
A locket is a wonderfully heartfelt gift for all occasions, as an sincere and quietly passionate way of expressing ones love. No matter how far or near, that special someone will be holding your hand or resting upon your heart.
Here at Berganza, we have a wonderful collection of antique lockets, filled with love from a past life. Browse our entire collection online today, or visit us at out Hatton Garden showroom from 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, and 10:30am-5pm on Saturdays.