Memorial Bereavement Jewellery

The history behind Memorial Jewellery

Our memorial jewellery collections are incredibly popular with customers, and there’s no doubt the concept of it is growing in popularity the more that word spreads. The idea of memorial jewellery isn’t new; it’s something that’s been around for a long time. However, memorial keepsake jewellery is continually developing, for example, with the introduction of cremation ashes memorial jewellery and hair jewellery in recent years. 

Let’s take a look at the fascinating history of memorial keepsake jewellery…


What is Memorial Jewellery?

Memorial jewellery is created in memory of a loved one, often containing a specific, unique memento from that person. It can consist of any personal aspect, such as fingerprints, handprints, handwriting, cremation ashes and hair. The idea of memorial jewellery is to incorporate a precious memory of a loved one into a piece of jewellery to create a unique, memorable and heartfelt keepsake.


When did memorial jewellery first become popular?

Memorial jewellery isn’t a new concept. In fact, the tradition of wearing ‘mourning jewellery’ (as it’s been known over the years) dates back to at least the Middle Ages. It grew in popularity again in the 17th and 18th centuries before another resurgence in the Victorian era.

Memorial Bereavement Jewellery


What were the most popular styles of traditional Memorial Jewellery?

During the Middle Ages, people wore motifs that served as tangible reminders of death, such as skulls and crossbones. Moving towards the 17th and 18th centuries, pieces may have held the initials of a mourned relation, alongside the phrase ‘memento mori’ (literally means ‘remember you must die’ in Latin) as a reminder to do right by the dead person by living piously while possible. It also had religious significance too.

Mourning jewellery then had another significant resurgence in the Victorian era. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, Queen Victoria wore her mourning jewels in memory of him. However, in that period, nature and art took the place of skulls and crossbones. Georgian mourning rings were also popular during this time. 


What is Memorial Hair Jewellery?

Traditional and contemporary memorial hair jewellery often includes a small memento of the deceased, such as a lock of hair. At Hand on Heart, we’re specialists at creating beautiful jewellery made from hair. Our highly skilled designers transfer each tiny hair by hand into a stunning range of jewellery, and our process is perfect for either human or pet hair.


How has memorial jewellery changed over time?

A key aspect of change has been the colour of memorial jewellery. Traditionally, memorial pieces of yesteryear were created to fit in with the strict mourning dress code and were therefore made from dark materials, such as black enamel, Whitby Jet and onyx. However, these days, memorial jewellery is typically a bright and beautiful reminder of a loved one’s memory. For example, our cremation ashes collections feature a gorgeous variety of colours, including purple, pink, green and blue, together with muted tones, to ensure there’s something for everyone.


Can memorial jewellery be created with ashes?

It certainly can. At Hand on Heart, we’ve been making beautiful cremation ashes jewellery for years. Our highly skilled designers transfer each tiny grain of cremation ash by hand into a stunning range of necklaces, bracelets, charms, cufflinks, rings and more.


Can I still create memorial jewellery if I don’t have any hair or ashes?

Absolutely – our memorial collections feature various options, specially created with care and sensitivity to suit everyone. Our collections include fingerprint jewellery, handprint and footprint jewellery, handwriting jewellery and angel wing jewellery.

 Memorial Bereavement Jewellery

Is memorial jewellery just for people, or can I buy it for my pets?

All our hair and ashes jewellery can be made in memory of your pets. We know exactly how precious our pets are to us – they’re part of the family, and it’s utterly heartbreaking when they’re gone. Our pet memorial pieces have been beautifully designed to pay tribute to our furry friends’ memory, and includes pawprint jewellery, pet ashes jewellery, self-fill urn jewellery and pet ashes keepsakes.


What a fascinating history of memorial jewellery – we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed researching it! Remember, our friendly team are experts in all things memorial jewellery, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, no matter how big or small. 


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