Tag Archives: mourning jewelry

The Jewelry Insider

October 29, 2010


(This is a popular older post that seemed appropriate to share again before the Halloween weekend. Be safe and bedazzle, jewelry hounds!)

Most of us associate jewelry with happy occasions like weddings, birthdays and Valentine’s Day. But many folks are wearing jewels these days that symbolize quite the opposite.

Mourning jewelry is apparently all the rage right now, according to TrendHunter, and with vampire chic taking over our pop culture – from Twilight to True Blood – it’s no wonder.

So what is mourning jewelry exactly?

The earliest examples of mourning jewelry were found in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Black and white enameled heads or skulls were often set into both rings and brooches and worn to signify a period of mourning after the death of a loved one.

The jewelry category reached its height of popularity in England with Queen Victoria after the premature death of Prince Albert in December 1861. Black jewelry soon became a must-have accessory, as thousands of Brits sympathized with their grieving Queen.


In the United States the use of mourning jewelry increased with the outbreak of the Civil War, which included the emergence of hair jewelry – lopped off locks given to loved ones by soldiers who went off to war, often worn as pendants or in closed lockets.


Today, mourning jewelry is making a comeback, with young designers like Anna Schwamborn from London designing a range of styles made with the hair and cremated ashes of loved ones mixed with black bone china. Her “Mourning Objects” collection includes a rosary, necklace and a watch chain tear catcher, among other styles.

So what do you think about this ‘trendy’ jewelry category? Would you wear the remains of your loved one around your neck, for example, or in the form of a ring? Or is the thought of it too morbid to even consider?

I’m curious. Has anyone out there worn mourning jewelry before? Share your story!