Mourning jewellery and art is quite collectible but not overly popular, since many people find it creepy to own something with the hair of someone long dead, not related to you. I appreciate the sentiment that went into creating mourning jewellery and artworks, and some of the pieces are incredibly intricate – works of art, really.
Above is a French memorial plaque which would have been set into a locket. When I bought it, it was not in a locket but I have since set it onto an old daguerrotype frame. I hope to one day find a locket to set it back into. The detail of the work is incredible!
Another piece of fine hair work, this locket has the hair set onto a mother of pearl disc that is in turn inserted into a slider pendant. It would have been attached onto a thick piece of ribbon or velvet and worn as a choker, or possibly even on a belt. The chain, which I added, is made from ivory – very old ivory.
This incredibly intricate pocket watch chain is, believe it or not, made from woven hair. The quality is outstanding and the work is very fine and detailed. The hardware and clasps are gold fill, and this piece comes from France.
A favourite way to wear mourning jewellery is in rings. I particularly like the pearl surrounds, and love this unusual photo ring. I am also searching for one with a coral surround, but have yet to find the right one for my collection. The two pearl rings date to the early part of the 19th century, and the photo ring dates to the latter part of the same century.
In a similar style to the rings, these mourning brooches have been transformed into pendants for necklaces. The one on the left, with garnets, came to me via my aunt who had it in her family for many years. The one on the right is possibly quite early, even late 18th century, and is in silver with paste stones and a rough lock of hair set inside.
This delightful collection of lockets date to the 18th century. The top one is a double sided locket and has some more hairwork on the other side, and the locket does open. Left to right at the bottom are: a polychrome French mourning pendant, with a locket opening at the back, a detailed sepia mourning pendant which has hair set into the trees, though most is hand painted, and another French locket with its pearl surround still intact.
A piece I treasure greatly and wear on occasion is this delightful 18th century mourning bracelet. It came to me un-strung, so I added the pearls. It has a beautiful sepia and hairwork design set inside under glass. A real treasure.
Next time I will show you some of the hairwork pieces I have in frames. They are, at the moment, packed away as I will be moving soon, but when I get time I will photograph them and share them with you.