Hair Jewelry

Hair Jewelry, another fashion (which some people find disturbing) that is highly identified with the Victorian era, is jewelry made from hair. Although it was done in Georgian times it was so congruent with the sentimentality of the early Victorian period that it became very widespread. Many pieces of jewelry were made to incorporate locks of hair, either as love tokens or as mementos from deceased loved ones. The hair is placed inside a crystal, sometimes just a curl, or woven. Sometimes, elaborate designs or pictures were made out of the hair. In addition, the hair was woven into coils and threads and woven designs and used to make chains, rings, crosses, bracelets and earrings - virtually every type of jewelry, some very complex in the weaving techniques used. Hair weaving was done by men and women and was not an uncommon parlor activity. Much attention was paid to treating it and sorting and weaving it by techniques not unlike needle lace. Not all hair that was used was human as some techniques were better adapted to the coarser strands of horsehair.

Woven pieces could be sent to goldsmiths who would fashion fittings for them. They would cost as much as a new dress or shawl and were frequently given as sentimental gifts to loved ones. Hair was also taken from a deceased child or spouse and put into mourning jewelry which became commonly worn after Prince Albert died in the 1860s.