If you're like most women, you probably have a few pieces of jewelry that are significant for you. If you'd like to learn more about jewelry with meaning, read on about these six types of women's symbolic jewelry, popular through the last several centuries. While you'll have to comb vintage and antique stores for some of these pieces, you can find others in jewelry shops today.
Eternity Bracelets and Rings
A popular symbol of love for eternity in the 19th Century was a serpent biting its own tail, often fashioned into a bracelet at that time. Also called, ouroboros, these eternity bracelets can still be found in jewelry stores nowadays and are frequently worn high and tight on the forearm.
The serpent image was also crafted in rings. In fact, an eternity serpent encircled the engagement ring given to Queen Victoria of England by Prince Albert (after SHE proposed to him in 1839!).
When Prince Albert died long before his wife, Queen Victoria certainly would have worn mourning jewelry, which was all the rage at the time. Typical pieces included brooches, pendants, lockets, and rings holding bits of the deceased's hair, frequently alongside tiny portraits, scraps of letters, and Latin inscriptions. Sometimes a "lover's eye"--a miniature depiction of one eye--was shown with a pearl teardrop, symbolizing the survivor's grief.
Baby Teeth Rings
Baby teeth were another popular inclusion for rings in the 19th Century. Sometimes incisors were set flush in a surrounding of precious or semiprecious stones. Other times, molars were set in prongs, just like regular jewel stones.
Momento Mori Jewelry
The ephemeral nature of love and life was a common theme in antique jewelry. Momento mori pieces reminded wearers to appreciate their short lives on earth by using skeletons or skulls with crossed bones on stick pins and rings.
By the time the 19th Century yielded to the 20th, women's right to vote was a huge social issue. Women who supported this right in the US, Britain, and Australia wore suffragette brooches featuring flowers, ribbons, banners, and hearts made of gemstones. Green and violet, feminine hues in vogue at the time, were the symbolic colors of the suffrage movement, so peridot and amethyst were frequently the stones of choice, usually with pearls too. You might have found one of these pins in your grandmother's or great grandmother's jewelry box and not even known what it was!
One of today's most popular pieces of symbolic jewelry is the anniversary wedding band. These slim, stackable bands are meant to be worn along with your engagement and wedding band to mark major anniversaries. Some lucky ladies have also been gifted these rings to commemorate the births of their children.
One of the nicest features of anniversary bands is that they can add variety and color to your original wedding duo or to a plain metal band. Usually, they are made of tiny diamonds, but you can add colored stones, like rubies or sapphires, or set your ring in a different metal, such as rose gold, for extra style.
Because they are so narrow, you can collect anniversary wedding bands for decades, and if you run out of room on your left ring finger, they'll look just as lovely on another finger or on your right hand. What better way to remember the one you love than to have something so beautiful that you can see every day? If your partner asks what you'd like for your anniversary, why not suggest an anniversary band--today's version of the eternity bracelet!