Floriography is the study of flower meanings, whereby each different flower holds it’s own meaning. Whilst this concept has always been known, the phenomenon of floriography really took off in Victorian England when romantic ideals were all the rage. This was of course due to Queen Victoria’s famous love for Prince Albert.
During this period it was fashionable for gentlemen to give small posies of flowers or ‘talking bouquets’ to their lady friends. These flowers would bear a secret message which the lady would then need to decipher- with a flower dictionary. It was a serious matter to do your homework before sending a bunch of flowers as the correct flower or even the correct colour of a specific flower could radically change the meaning of the bouquet, for example if you sent a pink rose, this signified ‘secret love’, a dark pink rose meant ‘thankfulness’, a red rose was for ‘love’ or a deep red rose meant ‘shame’ or ‘bashfulness’! One can imagine how easily a wrong choice of flower or colour could make the secret message go very wrong! This custom dated from a period when outspoken emotions were frowned upon, so these flower messages could ‘say’ what could not dare to be said.
The language of flowers was also carried through to use in jewellery. Ivy leaves denoted fidelity so perhaps unsurprisingly they were a favourite motif on wedding rings, for example our striking buckle ring reference 20078 which combines a pattern of intricately engraved ivy leaves along with buckle imagery which additionally signified everlasting love.
Another popular flower, the tiny bright blue Forget-Me-Not denoted ‘memories’. We see these being used on memorial jewellery for obvious reasons, for example our attractive black enamel locket reference 220/b. Another lovely use of Forget-Me-Nots can be seen on our colourful REGARD ring, reference 15233 which combines the Victorians’ love of the language of flowers with another favourite jewellery style- acrostic jewellery. This interesting ring is set with six gemstones with the first letter of each gem spelling out the word ‘REGARD’, these gems are then flanked to either side by a tiny turquoise cabochon flower- a stylised Forget-Me-Not.
Flower imagery has eternal appeal: if you would like to give your loved one a piece of jewellery with extra symbolic meaning, take a look at our selection of antique and vintage floral jewellery for a unique and cryptic gift!