Mourning jewelry, from the age of Victoria to today

Posted on June 5, 2018 by under Cremation
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Mourning jewelry made from human hair.

Courtesy of AndOnToWillow at Etsy.com

When a loved one dies we want to keep their memory with us. Mourning jewelry, containing ashes from cremation, lets us keep them physically close. The cremains jewelry available through William Sullivan & Son Funeral Directors is a contemporary version of a centuries-old practice.

People began incorporating clippings of their loved ones’ hair as early as the Middle Ages. Often it was as simple as keeping a lock of the hair in a locket. Queen Victoria, who was devastated by the early death of her husband, Prince Albert, wore such a locket daily for the next 40 years. The Victorian’s strict rules about mourning periods did not allow jewelry but they did permit that made from the loved one’s hair.

“Humans have been saving hair for as long as we’ve been burying our dead,” said Sondra Reierson, Associate Curator at the Minnesota Historical Society, quoted in this online story. Hair also is durable and long lasting. After all, objects seen today in museums or for sale may be 150 years old.

“Hairwork was an expression of genuine sentiment and was accessible to those, especially women, who could spend painstaking hours working hair into a memorial or reminder of a loved one,” Reierson says.

Braided hair could be seen in women’s necklaces and bracelets and men’s watch fobs. Craftspeople also “painted” pictures using tiny bits of hair.

The growing, modern preference for cremation provides different ways for people today to keep a part of their loved one with them. Consider cremation diamonds.

Mourning jewelry: A diamond made from ashes

Courtesy of mymemorialdiamond.com

Laboratories use intense heat and pressure to create diamonds from about one pound of ashes or 10 grams of hair. They can be cut as brilliantly as a natural diamond and displayed in any form of jewelry. They can be as expensive as a natural diamond.

Glass artisans can swirl a small amount of ash into beads or colorful work of art.

Sullivan Funeral Homes in Utica and Royal Oak, MI offer a wide range of commemorative jewelry, some of which can contain cremains. Others incorporate a photo of a loved one etched onto the lens, inserted into the pendant, and magnified 160 times. You can view the photo by holding the pendant up to your eye and looking through the hole.

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