At different times it happened that jewelry was not just jewelry, but veiled (and not so veiled) confessions. Such jewelry was popular in England at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, most often they were gifts from men in love to ladies of their hearts. The message itself was encrypted in the names of precious stones, from which a word was formed according to the principle of an acronym; most often, it was the word “REGARD”, literally meaning attention, respect. And in combination with other symbols – a declaration of love.
This exquisite brooch is a pledge of love from the distant past, meaning “The Key to my Heart.” The shape of the key and the heart that holds a lock of a loved one’s hair speak for themselves. But here is a set of pendants with precious stones: ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond, this is the acronym for the word “REGARD”: Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond.
In addition to “REGARD,” the most commonly used acronyms were “LOVE” (love) and “DEAREST” (dear, or rather, dearest):
- “LOVE”: Lapis-lazui (lapis lazuli), Opal (opal), Vermeil (hessonite garnet) and Emerald (emerald).
- “DEAREST”: Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz or Turquoise.
Secret messages of love encoded in gemstones during the Georgian and Victorian eras corresponded with the public’s interest in romance and symbolic meanings. These sentimental jewels could be given to lovers, family members or close friends. In addition to the fact that the dove carries the message in the acronym, the image of this bird symbolizes love and loyalty. Sometimes such decorations were paired, which also meant a happy marriage, since turtle doves create a pair for life, build nests together and raise chicks together. It’s not for nothing that they say about a couple in love: “They are like two doves.”
It is believed that the acronym jewelry was first invented by Jean-Baptiste Melleriot from Paris, creating jewelry with precious stones that meant “j’adore” (adore). Napoleon Bonaparte admired Mellario’s jewelry designs and commissioned acronym jewelry for both Empress Josephine and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise.
In the center of the brooch there is a medallion containing a strand of braided hair, a characteristic sign of this romantic time. During the Victorian era, jewelry with strands woven into them were very popular.
“She was sitting next to Edward, and as he held out his hand for the cup of tea that Mrs. Dashwood poured for him, she noticed a ring on his finger—a ring with a lock of hair set into it.” (Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility) .
But the next brooch-medallion is most likely of French work. A portrait miniature could be inserted into an oval medallion in the form of two glass lenses in a metal frame. Outside, the portrait was covered with decor in the form of a hand with a fan, made of gold with black and blue enamel, turquoise and pearls.