Memorials with Love

Grieving in Style: The Fascinating World of Victorian Mourning Jewelry

Victorian Mourning Jewelry: A Reflection of Grief and SymbolismIn the Victorian era, mourning was not only a deeply personal experience but a public display of grief. The death of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, Prince Albert, in 1861 set off a cultural shift that would be reflected in the fashion and jewelry of the time.

Victorian mourning jewelry became a popular way for individuals to express their grief and remember their loved ones. This article will delve into the fascinating world of Victorian mourning jewelry, exploring its history, symbolism, and the materials used to create these poignant pieces.

1) Victorian Mourning Jewelry: A Tribute to the Deceased

1.1 Subtopic: Victorian Mourning Jewelry and Its Origins

– During Queen Victoria’s mourning period for Prince Albert, she set a societal standard for mourning practices. – Mourning jewelry became popular as a way to remember and honor the deceased.

– The jewelry often featured hair of the deceased, encased in lockets or woven into intricate designs. 1.2 Subtopic: Queen Victoria and the Influence of Mourning

– Queen Victoria’s mourning period, which lasted for forty years, greatly impacted mourning practices in society.

– The use of black jet jewelry, made from fossilized wood, became popular during this time. – The Queen’s personal style influenced the fashion trends of the era, including mourning attire and jewelry.

2) Symbolism in Victorian Mourning Jewelry

2.1 Subtopic: The Language of Symbols

– Victorian mourning jewelry was rich in symbolism, allowing wearers to communicate their grief through their accessories. – Black settings, often made from jet or onyx, were commonly used to represent mourning.

– Other symbols, such as the urn, the weeping willow, and the dove, conveyed messages of sorrow and remembrance. 2.2 Subtopic: Death and Mourning Symbols

– Some mourning jewelry featured skulls, representing mortality and the inevitability of death.

– Other symbols included forget-me-not flowers, symbolizing everlasting love, and angels, representing a connection to the divine. – The symbols used in Victorian mourning jewelry were carefully chosen to convey emotions and messages.


In conclusion, Victorian mourning jewelry offers a glimpse into a bygone era of grief and remembrance. By exploring the origins and symbolism of these intricate pieces, we can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance they held.

From Queen Victoria’s influence to the various symbols used in their design, Victorian mourning jewelry serves as a tangible representation of an individual’s grief and a society’s collective mourning. The dedication and craftsmanship showcased in these pieces are a testament to the enduring power of remembrance.

3) Hair Jewelry: A Sentimental Keepsake in Victorian Mourning Jewelry

3.1 Subtopic: Hair Jewelry in Victorian Mourning Jewelry

Hair jewelry played a significant role in Victorian mourning practices. It was a highly personal and sentimental way to remember a loved one.

Locks of hair from the deceased were carefully collected and incorporated into various pieces of jewelry. This practice allowed mourners to carry a piece of their departed loved ones with them, offering comfort and a tangible connection.

Hair was often woven into intricate designs or encased in lockets, brooches, or rings. The hair was meticulously arranged, shaped, and sometimes even curled to create delicate patterns or initials.

These pieces were cherished not only for their sentimental value but also as a form of art, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the jewelers. 3.2 Subtopic: Memento Mori Rings and Necklaces in Victorian Mourning Jewelry

While hair jewelry was a popular choice, another common type of Victorian mourning jewelry was the Memento Mori ring or necklace.

Memento Mori, which translates to “remember you must die,” served as a constant reminder of mortality. These pieces often featured skulls, skeletons, or hourglasses, symbolizing the transient nature of life.

Memento Mori jewelry was not intended to be morbid but instead acted as a reminder to live each day to its fullest. These pieces were often personalized with the initials or names of the deceased, ensuring their memory lived on.

They served as a visual representation of the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death, encouraging wearers to appreciate their time on Earth. 4) Modern Mourning Jewelry: A Contemporary Approach to Remembrance

4.1 Subtopic: Modern Mourning Jewelry and Cremation Jewelry

While Victorian mourning jewelry belongs to a different time, the tradition of commemorating loved ones through jewelry has seen a resurgence in recent years.

One form of modern mourning jewelry is cremation jewelry, where a small portion of the deceased’s ashes is placed inside a pendant, ring, or bracelet. This allows individuals to keep their loved ones close and carry their memory with them throughout their daily lives.

Cremation jewelry can be personalized with engravings or designs that hold special meaning to the deceased or the wearer. These pieces serve as a unique and deeply personal way to remember and honor a loved one’s life.

4.2 Subtopic: Reasons for the Resurgence of Modern Mourning Jewelry

The resurgence of modern mourning jewelry can be attributed to several factors. One reason is the desire for unique and personal memorials that go beyond traditional grieving practices.

Modern mourning jewelry offers a way to celebrate an individual’s life and create a lasting and tangible connection. Additionally, as society becomes more open to discussing death and grief, there is a growing acknowledgment of the importance of personalized mourning practices.

Modern mourning jewelry allows for individual expression and the creation of personalized tributes that reflect the unique relationship between the wearer and the departed.


The evolution of mourning jewelry from Victorian times to the present day showcases the enduring human need to remember and honor our loved ones. Victorian mourning jewelry, with its hair keepsakes and symbolic designs, reminds us of a bygone era where grief was openly expressed through fashion and accessories.

In the modern era, mourning jewelry has taken on new forms, such as cremation jewelry, offering highly personal and customized ways to commemorate the departed. Whether through Victorian mourning jewelry or its contemporary counterparts, the act of commemorating loved ones through jewelry allows us to carry their memory with us and find solace in the tangible connection these pieces provide.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of grief and remembrance, mourning jewelry remains a timeless and poignant way to honor those we have lost. 5) Mourning Rings and Necklaces: Timeless Tokens of Remembrance

5.1 Subtopic: Examples of Mourning Rings and Necklaces

Mourning rings and necklaces were among the most popular forms of Victorian mourning jewelry.

These pieces served as tangible reminders of the deceased and were often adorned with intricate designs and symbols. Here are some examples of mourning rings and necklaces from the Victorian era:

– Black Onyx Rings: Rings made of black onyx were commonly used as mourning jewelry.

The dark color symbolized grief and served as a physical representation of the wearer’s mourning. – Enamel and Engraved Rings: Rings with enamel decoration and delicate engravings were popular choices for mourning jewelry.

These designs often included symbols such as weeping willow trees, urns, or crosses, symbolizing grief and eternal rest. – Locket Necklaces: Locket necklaces were a common choice for carrying a loved one’s memory close to the heart.

These necklaces typically featured a locket pendant, which could hold a lock of hair, a photograph, or a small memento belonging to the deceased. – Memorial Rings: Memorial rings were often customized with the name or initials of the departed.

Some designs featured a compartment on the inside, which held a lock of hair or other personal keepsakes. 5.2 Subtopic: Personalization Options for Mourning Jewelry

One of the unique aspects of mourning jewelry is the ability to personalize it, making it truly significant and meaningful to the wearer.

Here are some personalization options for mournings jewelry:

– Engraving: Adding a personal message, initials, or significant dates through engraving can make the jewelry more tailored to the individual and their loved one. – Birthstones: Incorporating the birthstone of the deceased or the wearer can add an additional layer of personalization to the piece, symbolizing their connection and shared memories.

– Custom Designs: Working with a jeweler to create a custom design based on personal symbols, images, or memories can result in a truly unique and one-of-a-kind piece of mourning jewelry that captures the essence of the departed. – Gemstone Choices: Choosing gemstones for their symbolic meanings can add a deeper layer of personalization to mourning jewelry.

For example, amethyst symbolizes peace and healing, while garnet represents love and devotion. 6) Creating Memorial-Inspired Jewelry at Home: A DIY Approach to Victorian Mourning Jewelry

6.1 Subtopic: DIY Victorian Mourning Jewelry

If you have a penchant for crafts or a desire to create a memorial-inspired piece of jewelry, exploring DIY options for Victorian mourning jewelry can be a rewarding endeavor.

Here are some tips and ideas for creating your own mourning-inspired jewelry:

– Hair Keepsake Jewelry: To incorporate the sentimental tradition of hair keepsakes, you can use a small lock of hair from a loved one and encase it in a locket or resin pendant. There are many DIY kits available that provide step-by-step instructions for creating these keepsakes.

– Symbolic Designs: Researching Victorian mourning symbols such as skulls, crosses, or angels can inspire your own design. You can use polymer clay or resin to mold and create custom pendants or charms with these symbols.

– Engraving and Personalization: If you have access to a jewelry engraving tool or have a steady hand with a small drill, you can personalize purchased jewelry with names, initials, or significant dates. This adds a personalized touch to the piece.

– Beaded Jewelry: Victorian mourning jewelry often featured black beads made from materials such as jet or onyx. You can incorporate black beads into your design using materials like glass or acrylic beads to create necklaces, bracelets, or earrings with a mourning-inspired aesthetic.

6.2 Subtopic: Making Memorial-Inspired Jewelry at Home

Creating memorial-inspired jewelry at home allows for a deeply personal and introspective experience. Here are some additional ideas for making memorial-inspired jewelry at home:

– Photo Lockets: Use small photo frames or locket findings to create photo lockets.

Choose meaningful photographs of the departed and carefully resize and embed them into the locket. This allows you to carry their image close to your heart.

– Encased Memories: Use resin or clear epoxy to create pendants or bracelets that encapsulate small mementos from your loved ones. These could be items such as a piece of fabric, flowers, or even handwritten notes.

– Commemorative Bracelets: Create beaded bracelets with beads in the colors and patterns that hold significance to the person you are remembering. For example, use birthstone beads, favorite colors, or patterns that reflect their hobbies or passions.

– Collage Rings: Make collage rings featuring small images, symbols, or words that remind you of your loved one. Use small images printed on paper or carefully selected stickers and adhere them to a base ring using strong adhesive.


Mourning rings and necklaces provide timeless tokens of remembrance, allowing individuals to carry the memory of their loved ones close to their hearts. By exploring examples of Victorian mourning jewelry and understanding the personalization options available, it becomes apparent that mourners have always found solace in creating and wearing these meaningful pieces.

Additionally, venturing into DIY mourning jewelry projects at home offers a unique and introspective way to express grief and remember those who have passed. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating memorial-inspired jewelry, allowing individuals to create enduring and personalized tributes that honor their loved ones for years to come.

In conclusion, Victorian mourning jewelry and its modern counterparts serve as powerful symbols of remembrance and a tangible connection to our departed loved ones. From hair jewelry and Memento Mori pieces to personalized mourning rings and necklaces, these pieces carry deep emotional significance.

Whether exploring the history and symbolism of Victorian mourning jewelry or embarking on DIY projects at home, the act of creating and wearing these personalized tributes allows us to process and honor our grief. By carrying the memory of our loved ones close to our hearts, mourning jewelry becomes a timeless and poignant way to navigate the complexities of loss.

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