Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > History

St Valentine’s Day

heart shaped jewellery to celebrate valentines day

There are many versions of the origin of Valentine’s day and in truth most not substantially supported and thus deemed apocryphal. However, the most popular of all is that of martyr Valentine who was a third-century Roman saint and known as the patron saint of lovers. During Claudius II reign, marriage was forbidden between young men and women as Claudius thought women a distraction to his soldiers. Valentine was a priest during this time and was arrested for defying this law after secretly betrothing young couples. Whilst in prison he is believed to have fallen in love with the daughter of the jail keeper, Julia, he is even said to have restored her sight as she was blind. Valentine was sent to be hanged on February the 14th for his crimes. Before his imminent death it is said he sent her a farewell note signed, ‘from your Valentine’ which is where the tradition today comes from.


The heart ideogram has been used as a jewellery design for centuries and can be seen inscribed inside the predecessor to the modern wedding band, posy rings. These rings have to the interior inscribed a motto or poem and were popular from the 14th  to the 19th centuries. A simple outline of the universal heart image has evolved throughout the ages with heart shape cut stones, 3D pendant designs and necklaces. The heart shape is a common design feature used by renowned jewellers Tiffany & Co.


Diamond is the hardest rock known to man and can only be cut by another diamond, perhaps this is why today they are a popular choice for an engagement ring as they are hardwearing but also represent resilience in the romantic sense. Rubies of course in western cultures are associated with passion, romance and love and thus a fitting choice for this special day. At Berganza, all of our rubies are natural and unenhanced and many come from the historically important Burmese mines known for their exceptional quality.


Despite the inconsistent stories and multiple martyrs named Valentine, all are based on a heroic and chivalrous figure. Celebrate and commemorate the most romantic day of the year with a special piece of antique or vintage jewellery from Berganza.

Tiffany Co ruby diamond heart necklace hatton garden
Tiffany & Co. ruby and diamond heart necklace, American, circa 1980.
Ref: 22076
Burmese ruby and diamond earrings berganza hatton garden
Burmese ruby and diamond earrings, circa 1935.
Ref: 27349
Art Deco Asscher cut diamond ring hatton garden
Art Deco Asscher cut diamond ring, circa 1920.
Ref: 24624
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Updated 16/04/2024 at 10:48AM

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