Romantic Jewelry Through the Ages

Let’s try a little experiment. If I say “love and jewelry,” what image flashes into your mind? Considering the day and age, probably a diamond engagement ring or gold wedding band. But while these specific traditions are less than a hundred years old, people have been expressing their love through jewelry for, well, probably forever. And the kinds of jewelry they’ve used have been as varied, and as lovely, as love itself. So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here are a few examples of popular love tokens from throughout history.


Fede rings, depicting clasped hands, are one of the oldest forms of jewelry, dating back to Roman times; Europeans revived the style in the twelfth century, and their period of greatest prevalence lasted through the eighteenth (which is when ours is from!); today, the related claddagh ring is more commonly seen. The name comes from the Italian phrase mani in fede, meaning hands clasped in faith, and they were held to represent love, friendship, or betrothal. This sweet example seems to show a man’s hand tenderly holding a woman’s, identified by her tiny bracelet.


Giardinetti jewelry takes the shape of a bouquet, often in a vase (giardinetti is Italian for “little garden”). These rings and broaches, set with colorful gemstones or, like ours, with diamonds, were particularly popular during the Georgian era, and often traded by friends and lovers. Think of them as the jewelry equivalent of a bouquet of flowers!

Snakes have long been a popular jewelry motif, but not everyone realizes that they’re a symbol of love! Eternal love, to be precise. While dating to ancient times, serpent jewelry enjoyed a massive resurgence during the nineteenth century after a young Queen Victoria received a snake engagement ring from her beloved Prince Albert. These snake rings do indeed date to the Victorian era, and put a particularly romantic twist on the style (no pun intended) with their designs of two snakes intertwined.

Lockets have been gracing necklaces, and sometimes rings and brooches, for centuries; then as now, they’re treasured for their ability to hold images or small items evoking someone beloved to the wearer. Before the dawn of photography, they were most likely to contain a miniature painted portrait or, as famously depicted in Wuthering Heights, a lock of hair. Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, some larger examples held daguerreotypes, an early form of photograph. With the advent of modern photography techniques around the turn of the century, however, the ability to take, reproduce, and resize pictures became accessible to the masses. As more and more people possessed photos of their loved ones, the locket reached even higher levels of popularity as the perfect way to keep them close.

Beautiful, durable, and intimate, it’s easy to see why people have used jewelry to say “I love you” for centuries, and in so many imaginative ways! We’re just grateful that, all these years later, these pieces keep a whole history of love alive. It’s clear that love and jewelry are, in themselves, a match made in heaven.

Historic Weddings: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco

Happy 59th anniversary to one of the most iconic couples of the 20th century: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco!

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Kelly and Prince Rainier met at the Cannes film festival in 1955, and after spending just a few days together over the next year the Prince proposed! He initially presented Kelly with an elegant diamond and ruby band from Cartier, which you can see her showing off below:

The newly-engaged Kelly admires her engagement ring. 

The newly-engaged Kelly admires her engagement ring. 

The story goes that Rainier noticed how other elite American ladies preferred humongous diamonds to show off their marital status, and he quickly decided his princess-to-be was in need of an upgrade. Not just a small upgrade, mind you, but 10.47carat emerald-cut upgrade:

Engagement ring #2: a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond with baguette accents in a platinum setting, also by Cartier. 

Engagement ring #2: a 10.47 carat emerald cut diamond with baguette accents in a platinum setting, also by Cartier. 

This whopper of an engagement ring epitomized upper-class luxury so perfectly that Kelly wore it on screen for her role as Tracy Samantha Lord in High Societya film that satirizes the wedding of a wealthy American heiress.

Though Kelly's engagement to a real-life prince with exceptional taste in jewelry may seem like a fairy tale, its worth noting that Grace and her family were required to cough up a $2 million dowry for the privilege of marrying her into the royal family of Monaco. No wonder the Prince had the budget for such an impressive diamond!

Happy Anniversary to Edward VII & Queen Alexandra!

On this day in 1863, Alexandra of Denmark married Edward, Prince of Wales.

In 1901 upon the death of Edward's mother, Queen Victoria, the couple ascended to the thrones of Great Britain as King and Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and Emperor & Empress of India. Though Edward was a bit of a troublemaker, he still holds a special place in our hearts as the namesake of the Edwardian era - a moment in jewelry history when diamonds, pearls and intricate, elegant platinum-work reigned supreme. 

There may have been a few decades between the couples' wedding and their coronations, but we think they aged quite well!

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: Celebrating 175 Years!

Happy 175th Anniversary to Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert. They were married on this day in 1840, and their time together influenced the trends of generations. To celebrate, let’s look back on their big day. It should come as no surprise that their courtship and wedding ceremony shaped the nuptial institution as we know it.

Victoria received one of the first engagement rings. A coiled snake was fashioned in gold with an emerald, her birthstone, set into the head. The snake symbolized eternal love, and became a proliferate motif in Victorian era jewelry representing wisdom and fidelity. Birthstone-set rings became a popular choice for engagement jewelry until the late 19th century.

The new queen chose a white dress for her marriage ceremony. Some considered this a conservative choice, as bright colored wedding gowns were the order of the day. White was also worn as a color of mourning at the time, adding to the confusion over her decision. However, less than a decade later, a fashionable bride could wear no other color than pristine white. 

In the image to the right, Victoria is  painted wearing the "Albert" brooch, which features an oblong mixed cut sapphire of an estimated 20-30cts, surrounded by brilliant cut diamonds. It remains among the Crown Jewels to this day.

Victoria gifted each of her 12 train-bearers, or bridesmaids, a turquoise brooch in the shape of an eagle, additionally decorated with diamonds, rubies and pearls. 

Blue was the color of loyalty and faithfulness, which is why the good luck rhyme “Something old, something new…” says a bride is should carry a “something blue” with her. It makes sense that, in this age of romance and sentiment, that a bride should offer the same to her attendants. 

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the third Monday in January, we celebrate the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. A great orator and champion of non-violent activism, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Today, we remember his untimely death, and recall a happier day: that of King's wedding to Coretta Scott on June 18, 1958.

Coretta Scott King continued to lead the civil rights movement after her husband’s death. She also supported the movements for women’s and LGBT rights.