Heirloom Jewelry Boxes

Most of our female ancestors had some form of a container or box to place their jewelry, even if they only had a couple of pieces. Many people in recent years have loved to collect some of the vintage jewelry boxes used years ago.

Especially popular are vintage jewelry boxes; some are hand-carved, others musical, and occasionally you’ll find one with a secret message or complex code for unlocking it.

Before jewelry boxes were mass-produced, their owners were typically royalty or members of high society. The boxes played a role in courtship, artfully cloaking the jewels that royals presented to their female love interests in the hopes of wooing them. However, also a father could have made a nice jewelry box for his daughter or a husband for his wife, not just for high society.

With the age of the Industrial Revolution (the early 1800s), jewelry boxes became available to middle-class folk. Many were mass-produced. During the early 20th century, both European and American manufacturers achieved popularity globally. The Great Depression and World War II brought the American production to halt, but it eventually made a comeback, with designers like Mele and Tiffany’s rising to fame.

In the 1860s, Switzerland became known for its musical jewelry boxes with many purchased and sent to America. It was American designer Mele & Co (since 1912) who made its own design of the musical jewelry box especially popular in the 1950s, the famous ballerina jewelry box for children that found its way onto many a child’s wish list during that era.

Popular also were mini-cabinet or bureau jewelry boxes.

Photo: Mele & Co famed ballerina jewelry box.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Favorite Heirlooms

Vintage Costume Jewelry

Ways to Display Family Heirlooms

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