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Symbolism in Jewellery: A Journey through Modern Day and the Victorian Era

Updated: Sep 23, 2023


Jewellery has always held a special place, transcending its mere decorative purpose to become a powerful means of self-expression and communication. Symbolism within jewellery is a fascinating phenomenon that has evolved over the centuries, with the Victorian era standing as the pinnacle of this art. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of symbolism in jewellery, comparing its significance in the modern day with the golden age of the Victorian era.



The Victorian Era: A Time of Hidden Meanings


Now, if you know me you'll know how much I nerd out over this era and all the hidden, and not so hidden meanings within the jewellery of the time. During the era, jewellery served as a medium through which emotions, allegiances, and sentiments were conveyed, often concealed beneath intricate designs. Lockets, for instance, were immensely popular and held tiny portraits or locks of hair, symbolising secret love and remembrance. Acrostic jewellery, another Victorian trend, combined gemstones to spell out words of affection or endearment, allowing wearers to express their feelings in a discreet yet poignant manner. Mourning jewellery was also very popular during this time and served as a method of keeping loved ones near.



Modern Symbolism: A Blend of Tradition and Contemporary Expression


In the present day, symbolism in jewellery has taken on a more diverse and personalised form. While some elements of Victorian-era symbolism can still be seen, modern jewellers and wearers have embraced a broader spectrum of meanings. Birthstones, for example, have maintained their symbolism. Additionally, more minimalist designs with geometric shapes or nature-inspired motifs often convey individuality, connection to nature, or philosophical beliefs. It is now the wearer's interpretation that truly imbues pieces with meaning, making modern jewellery a canvas for self-expression.



Cultural Influences and Global Connectivity


One significant shift in modern jewellery is the incorporation of global influences and cultural diversity. As societies become more interconnected, jewellery designs now draw from a much wider variety of cultures, creating a fusion of meanings and aesthetics. Traditional symbols from different parts of the world, such as the Hamsa hand or the Celtic knot, find their way into contemporary jewellery, allowing wearers to showcase their heritage or appreciation for cultural richness.



Technology and Personalisation


Advancements in technology have revolutionised the way jewellery is designed and can be personalised. With 3D printing, computer-aided design (CAD), and laser engraving, individuals can create unique pieces that hold deeply personal meanings. Customisable jewellery, from engraved initials to coordinates of meaningful locations, empowers wearers to embed their own stories and memories into their adornments. Personalisation has quickly become the biggest way to add meaning and symbolism in the modern age.



The symbolism within jewellery has traversed time and culture, adapting to the ever-changing landscape of human expression. The Victorian era, renowned for its concealed meanings and societal codes, stands as a testament to the power of jewellery as a form of communication. In the modern day, jewellery continues to evolve, reflecting personal narratives, cultural diversity, and technological innovation. Whether hidden within intricate Victorian lockets or boldly displayed in contemporary designs, the symbolism within jewellery remains a powerful conduit for emotion, connection, and self-representation. What meanings does your jewellery hold?

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