In the last post I touched on the less overt love tokens.
One of the loveliest I always thought was Regard jewellery, which found favour during the late Georgian and Victorian times. This is where the stones in the ring or locket, for example, spell the message regard (Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond) or dearest (Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby,
Emerald, Sapphire and Topaz.) It sounds ghastly and in modern jewellery the colours clash appallingly but in antique jewellery the stones are often combined with different shades of gold so the effect is more muted. This early Victorian padlock and key jewel combines the symbolism of having the key to unlock the heart’s secrets with the charm of the message.
For most, the ultimate symbol of love is the wedding ring, (the gotcha symbol). It has, though, gone through many transformations. to arrive at today’s wedding band. A simple twisted hemp ring sufficed in ancient civilisations, an iron ring in the early Roman period (which symbolised the man’s ownership of the woman). However, a more attractive Roman development of the marriage ring was a fede ring. Fede comes from the Latin for trust, faith and fidelity. This sign of two hands joined together was the Roman emblem for a legal contract, (perhaps the modern equivalent of shaking hands on a deal). This ring has kept this essential meaning of trust over the
centuries – Nelson gave his Emma a fede ring. A more popular version of this ring is this 17th century design – remarkably similar to the Irish Claddagh ring. The hands holding the heart make it a natural choice to represent sweethearts.