Bring That Back: Victorian Buckle Jewelry
As All Souls Day draws nigh, it seems fitting to shed light on the Victorians’ rich tradition of remembrance. In a time when one’s grasp on life was especially tenuous, mortality was keenly felt. Husbands lost their wives to childbirth, parents lost their infants to infection, women lost their men to the dangers of the industrial workplace. In the wake of such ubiquitous loss, the Victorians clung to a number of mourning traditions, which granted solace through remembrance. Postmortem photography, hairwreaths and jewelry made from the locks of departed loved ones, and the customary donning of black were all ways in which the Victorians honored, mourned, and coped with the loss of their dead.
Perhaps a more subtle mourning custom was the wearing of buckle jewelry. By its very form, the buckled belt suggests the never-ending circle of eternity. For the Victorians, it embodied a sentiment of enduring love and loyalty that transcended the grave. It was a gesture of devotion that adorned bracelets, rings, brooches, and lockets, many of which were personalized with a concealed lock of hair or an engraving of the deceased’s initials and death date.
Victorian-style buckle jewelry is timeless in its beauty and appeal, but the powerful sentiment behind its origins makes this tradition all the worthier of preservation.