May is the start of the flower shows in the UK and I thought it would be interesting to see how successful flowers and plants have been in jewellery design. It seems that every era (except 1930’s deco) have incorporated the natural into jewels – everything from wheat sheaves to cherries and strawberries.
The flowers have also been made out of any number of materials from the valuable gold, diamonds, pearls and rubies to the simpler (but in some cases) more suspect materials of tortoise shell, ivory and even glass. Superstition had assigned meanings to the flowers and these, too, have been passed on to the flowers in the jewels. These were a wonderful way to send secret messages to a beloved in days past. The ivory bracelet below is made up of five
plaques, strung together on elastic and are very Victorian with carved daisies, roses, forget-me-nots and fuschia. Roses are universal symbols of love as are forget-me-nots. The daisy represents purity and innocence and the fuschia good taste. These flower motifs repeat many times.
Another delightful design is the flower basket in jewellery. Seen here is a Georgian example. These giardinetti jewels (little garden) pieces could be tiny baskets, vases or flower pots filled with a riot of small gemstones to illustrate the many variety of flowers.
They were also said to symbolise conjugal harmony.