Family Lockets

A locket is just like it sounds, a protected place to keep something of special meaning to the person. Many of the early ancient lockets kept an herbal remedy or medicine, even poison. During the 1500s, lockets became popular as mourning jewelry (something worn after the death of a loved one). Calling them locket came from the placement of a lock of hair of a deceased loved one in the safe pendant and then worn next to one’s heart, concealed beneath clothing.

Beginning in the 1700s and going into the 1830s, miniature paintings were done on ivory of a deceased loved one and placed in a pendant to be worn. The practice of placing something directly related to the deceased person was still done, besides a lock of hair, a piece of fabric from clothing would be in a hinged locket, that had a cover. But not all, there were also lockets with just a glass cover and not a hinged metal plate. These would be worn outside the clothing for anyone to see.

In the United States with the American Civil War, (1861-1865), mourning lockets became very commonplace, with so many soldiers killed during the war. With photos more available the locket held a photo of the person. Engraved in the locket would also be dates and names of the person being mourned.

Many lockets were not just for mourning deceased loved ones but also to keep a lover, a sweetheart near you. These ‘love lockets’ would be fancy having gems or pearls and made of silver with a photo inside. Again not every one had such expensive lockets, the same idea was done using less expensive materials such as tin.

In the 1950s to present-day, lockets can be of stainless steel and various shapes, from heart to oval and round or even square. Such lockets hang from a chain, short or long around someone’s neck. There can also be a locket worn as a charm on a bracelet.

You will want to check if there are any lockets handed down in the family. See if there is a photo or lock of hair. It was a very popular custom in the late 1800s into the the early 20th century.

Photo: A vintage locket with photo and lock of hair.

Related Blogs:

Mourning Jewelry

Vintage Costume Jewelry

Where to Find Family Heirlooms

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