The History of Heart Jewelry

February is the season of celebrating love. This often means gifting red roses, boxes of chocolates, and the iconic heart jewelry. So where did the tradition of giving heart jewelry first begin? Why is it that heart jewelry is one of the most popular ways to say "I Love You" these days? What's the history heart jewelry?

In honor of this season of love, we figured it would be a fun opportunity to learn about the origin of heart jewelry. Here's 6 facts about the origin of heart jewelry! Why not wow somebody with some knowledge of heart jewelry this Valentine's Day!


1. The Heart Motif Goes Way Back

There's nothing more recognizable today as a symbol than the heart is as a symbol of love! It's a common representation of friendship, love, commitment, desire, and so much more. Hearts are the quintessential way to demonstrate a deep love for a significant other. So when did this symbol first appear in history?

Hearts as a symbol of love have been around as far back as the Middle Ages, believe it or not! It grew in popularity through the Renaissance as a symbol of medieval royal love. It then began to be featured more and more in jewelry.


2. "The Heart Has Its Reasons"

Everyone knows that the heart wants what the heart wants. Sometimes even despite the logical thinking of the head! Nearly 100 years ago, King Edward VIII of England and Wallis Simpson, a socialite, had a very scandalous relationship. His family frowned upon this relationship due to Wallis being a divorcee. They forced him to choose between his family and the throne or his love. He chose love over fame, power, and family. But he knew that his heart had its reasons for the decision, even if nobody else understood.

In the beginning of their relationship, King Edward VIII gifted Wallis a beautiful Cartier heart locket bracelet. This locket opened up to reveal an engraving of the phrase, "The Heart Has Its Reasons". This beautiful gesture has gone down in history and perhaps has inspired many other lovers looking to gift something meaningful and special to their love!

The full quote is one by Blaise Pascal, a french mathematician, physicist, inventor, and writer. He had said, "The heart has its reasons for which reasons know nothing". This phrase is very fitting for King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson's love affair as he seemingly threw away everything for love. Some people may not have understood why he did such a thing but his heart knew why.


3. You Bewitch My Heart

There are several styles of heart jewelry from history that each have their own different meaning. One of those styles is called the witches heart. A witches heart is one that has a swooping design. This was worn for a variety of reasons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. One such belief was that it would protect babies from witches!

This witches heart design is still popular today although it doesn't have quite the same meaning anymore.


4. Hold My Heart in Your Hands

The motif of a heart being held in hands became quite popular in Victorian England and Ireland. This motif is still popular to this day and is known as a claddagh ring. The name claddagh is actually comes from one of the oldest fishing villages in Ireland.

The claddagh ring is still a popular piece of jewelry even today and is one of the most important parts of the history of heart jewelry. The wearer of the ring can flip the direction of the ring to face inwards if they are taken or outwards if they are searching for love.


5. The Luckenbooth Heart

The Luckenbooth design originated in Scotland and is quite similar in design to the claddagh heart and in meaning to the witches heart. The name comes from the luckenbooths where small gifts and jewelry could be bought in Edinburgh as far back as the 15th century.

The design of the Luckenbooth heart is quite similar to the claddagh ring in that it features a heart and crown. The crown in heart jewelry was a symbol of loyalty.

A luckenbooth heart is a traditional Scottish symbol of love and commitment, often given as an symbol of engagement or wedding. It also was worn to protect babies and aid new mothers similar to the witches heart.


6. A Few Other Heart Symbols

The heart symbol in jewelry has changed over time and has had many different meanings depending on location and origin. Here are some other heart jewelry designs you may have seen and what they mean!

  • Double hearts - Two hearts side by side in jewelry were often used in wedding jewelry. They often suggested meaning two hearts coming together as one.
  • Intertwined hearts - When hearts are intertwined, it signifies everlasting love. How sweet!
  • Two hearts with a crown - This symbolizes the reigning of fidelity of a marriage.
  • Single heart with a crown - This signifies "ruler of my heart" and was a popular wedding ring design.
  • Heart on fire - A heart that is on fire is a symbol of burning passion and romance.
  • Heart with a lock or key - This is a symbol of one having the key to their love's heart.

Whether you find heart jewelry beautiful or too girly for your taste, you can't deny that the history of heart jewelry is quite fascinating! You might find that by digging through your jewelry box, that you own some heart jewelry that has historical meaning that you didn't even know about.