Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Art of Mourning Jewelry

About a week ago my stepfather ended up in the hospital after a heart attack. He had to have emergency surgery and all that. My family of course went into what I thought of as the "death fear" mode. It was interesting to see and hear people's reaction to the "fact" that we're all impermanent. But I won't get into that here....that's a whole other blog

Well my step dad survived the heart attack and surgery. When I spoke to him we had an interesting convo. After asking him how's he's doing and all that...he replied " You can put away your outfit for the funeral...jewels and all.

Seems my stepfather knows me. See, I understand death is a part of life, just as much as birth. While everyone was wondering about their own mortality...I was wondering what to wear. This thought reminded me of the custom of mourning jewelry.

During the Georgian and Victorian Periods, works of art and jewelry were created out of hair and other materials to commemorate the loss of loved ones. These mourning pieces served as an eternal memorial and reminder of the lost loved one.

While there are many compaies making jewelry to celebrate life very few make jewelry to remember a dead loved one. But there is a good amount of info about the history behind this type of jewelry. Doing a quick search I found

I also found the website Things Gone By which has a mourning jewelry museum and the Art of Mourning website which is dedicated to mourning, memorial and sentimental jewellery, funeralia and art.

How wonderful that during the saddest moments of our life, we can still be creative and make beautiful jewelry. There's definitely a lesson for me to learn from that.


kerin rose said...

good morning!...thank you for this interesting post, and thanks so much for the blog first!...

I have passed it on to some folks whose work I and light to your stepdad for quick recovery!

Kerin Rose

Jonara Blu Maui said...

I'm glad to hear your step dad is okay. Mine has been dealing w/ the same kind of probs for the last couple of years. It's amazing what modern medicine can do these days.

Thats an interesting jewelry piece and concept..I can totally see it popular in goth/victorian fashion. but in talking about making jewelry to remember someone after they die that reminded me of Marjorie! Have you met her yet? Marjorie's Cracked Plate Jewelry... she creates wire wrapped jewelry out of broken china and crystal and many of her customers are people who have china remnants from a family member who may have passed away. It's very special what she makes for them.

Maricris Zen Mama said...

I never knew of mourning jewelry. Very interesting. Glad your stepdad is OK.

elsiee said...

your step dad is a treasure!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE antique mourning jewelry, it's one of my favorite searches on Ebay. The lockets of intricately woven hair are my very favorite!

- Marybeth I. said...

I just read a book where a piece of mourning jewelry was a central symbol (the forgotten garden).

I will have to do the ebay search Happy to hear your stepfather is ok

PK said...

Wonderful post. Glad to see more historical information about adorment origins.

Kestralyn said...

One of the things that speaks to me most strongly about the Victorian hairwork jewelery is that you are incorporating the loved one themselves into the piece that you create to celebrate and mourn them. That's intense.