Art, Beauty, Life style

Love jewelry

Georgian gold acronym brooch REGARD, early 19th century.
Georgian gold acronym brooch REGARD, early 19th century.

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.

Gold brooch pendant REGARD, England, circa 1800.
Gold brooch pendant REGARD, England, circa 1800.

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.
REGARD gold ring with precious stones and enamel, England, circa 1860 1869.
REGARD gold ring with precious stones and enamel, England, circa 1860 1869.

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.”

Gold brooch REGARD in the form of a lyre, England, early 19th century.
Gold brooch REGARD in the form of a lyre, England, early 19th century.

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.

Gold REGARD brooch with lock of hair, England, circa 1840.
Gold REGARD brooch with lock of hair, England, circa 1840.

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) .

Secret Lover medallion brooch, probably France, circa 1870
Secret Lover medallion brooch, probably France, circa 1870

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.

Gold filigree brooch REGARD in the form of a dove holding a heart shaped medallion in its beak, England, early 19th century.
Gold filigree brooch REGARD in the form of a dove holding a heart shaped medallion in its beak, England, early 19th century.
The portrait miniature is sandwiched between two glasses inside the medallion.
The portrait miniature is sandwiched between two glasses inside the medallion.
The secret of the medallion is that the fan could be folded by pressing a tab, revealing a miniature hidden in the medallion.
The secret of the medallion is that the fan could be folded by pressing a tab, revealing a miniature hidden in the medallion.
REGARD gold ring, Birmingham, 1903.
REGARD gold ring, Birmingham, 1903.
Gold brooch DEAREST, Julius Cohen, New York.
Gold brooch DEAREST, Julius Cohen, New York.
Love jewelry Fine details a ruby bracelet, a diamond ring, a hand holding a golden ball a pearl, between the thumb and forefinger.
Fine details a ruby bracelet, a diamond ring, a hand holding a golden ball a pearl, between the thumb and forefinger.
Love jewelry Rare gold hand brooch with luxurious cuff inscribed with the acronym DEAREST in jewels, England, circa 1860.
Rare gold hand brooch with luxurious cuff inscribed with the acronym DEAREST in jewels, England, circa 1860.
Love jewelry REGARD medallion brooch in yellow and green gold, England, early 19th century.
REGARD medallion brooch in yellow and green gold, England, early 19th century.
Love jewelry Gold medallion brooch REGARD, Edinburgh, early 19th century.
Gold medallion brooch REGARD, Edinburgh, early 19th century. Sentimental Jewelry.
Sentimental Jewelry Gold brooch medallion in the form of a lock with a key, England, early 19th century.
Brooch medallion in the form of a lock with a key, England, early 19th century.
Love jewelry Gold medallion brooch REGARD with a lock of hair, England, circa 1880. In this version, the medallion with a lock of hair is mounted on the reverse of the brooch.
Gold medallion brooch REGARD with a lock of hair, England, circa 1880. In this version, the medallion with a lock of hair is mounted on the reverse of the brooch.
Love jewelry Gold REGARD brooch with lock of hair, England, circa 1840.
Gold REGARD brooch with lock of hair, England, circa 1840. Love jewelry.
Love jewelry Pair of filigree REGARD dove brooches, England, circa 1820.
Pair of filigree REGARD dove brooches, England, circa 1820. Love jewelry.

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