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The History of Love Heart Jewellery

Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage.

We absolutely adore love heart jewellery, it is almost a guarantee that we will have sourced some heart shaped jewels to have stocked on our store.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the heart became a symbol for love in jewellery, the earliest known examples appear to have been from the late medieval period, where rings and brooches were often inscribed with short love poems, with the jewellery being gifted as a token of love.

Image sources; The V&A Museum. Left - The inscription on this brooch, meaning 'without being parted' invokes both the themes of infedility and love' Circa 1400-1425.

Right - "Gold ring, (the) hoop engraved inside with a heart pierced by an arrow" Circa 1600.

The Start of Love Heart Jewellery

Love heart jewellery grew in popularity in the 16th century, being used to symbolise love and affection. In the 17th century in Scotland, a twist on typical love heart jewellery evolved into ‘witch's hearts’ or ‘Luckenbooth’, a type of brooch used as a talisman against evil spirits. By the 18th century it was typical for a witch's heart to feature garnets, with the meaning changing to ‘bewitched by love’.

Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage sold archive. Antique 9ct Gold Witch's Heart Pendant.

Victorian Love

It is no surprise that love heart jewellery was hugely popular during the Georgian and Victorian eras, growing ever more popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. Known for being the ‘Age of Sentiment’, love hearts quickly became one of the favourite motifs of the time appearing in all forms of jewellery, from necklaces and rings, and more prominently, charms. We know how much Queen Victoria loved her jewellery, owning several forms of love heart pieces in her collection, all with huge amounts of romanticism and sentiment. Her most famous item of love heart jewellery is the gold charm bracelet featuring 9 heart shaped lockets, one for the birth of each of her children. Each locket was filled with a lock of hair and inscribed with a name and date of birth.

Image source; The Royal Collection Trust. "This simple chain and locket bracelet is typical of the sentimental items Prince Albert gave to the Queen. The hearts record the birth of the children as follows: pink for Princess Victoria, turquoise blue for Albert, red for Princess Alice, dark blue for Alfred, translucent white for Helena, dark green for Louise, mid blue for Arthur, opaque white for Leopold and light green for Beatrice."

Other forms of love heart jewellery that the Victorians adored were heart-shaped padlocks, most notably padlock bracelets. The bracelet would be gifted to women from their partner who would be away for a long time. As a symbol for devotion, commitment and affection, the bracelet would stay locked on the women’s wrist until her partner returned with the key to unlock the padlock.

Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage sold archive. Victorian 9ct Gold Engraved Link Bracelet With Floral Padlock ( 12.85g, 7" )

Modern Love

Today, love heart jewellery still feels modern to wear. A timeless style of jewellery that has such a high level of wearability, it is a popular choice for many avid jewellery wearers. From high street through to vintage, antique and high-end designers you don’t have far to search to find heart shaped jewellery.

Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage sold archive. An array of heart and love themed jewels, featuring all types of jewellery, from rings to earrings and charms.

Here at CLV, you know how much we champion shopping sustainably and secondhand, we believe that antique love heart pieces wouldn’t look out of place being worn in the 21st century. We love the idea of pairing a Victorian heart padlock with a modern chain, worn with a t-shirt and jeans to make a perfect, classic outfit.

Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage. Here we have layered multiple heart shaped padlocks with chic, modern chains.

Whether you decide to wear 1, 2 or more heart shaped jewels at once, we think they are an excellent place to start your vintage and antique jewellery collection. We particularly think padlocks are the perfect collectors first item, as they range in affordability, and are oh so versatile to wear along with other pieces you may already own. Why not mix them with jewels featuring pearls, diamonds or rubies like we have in the above image, making for a dreamy combination.

Click here to view our jewellery collection, and see what love themed pieces we have up for grabs.


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