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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Vlaams hart (Flemish heart)

Vlaams hart Flemish heart with normal crown Vlaams hart Flemish heart with love trophy crown

One of the most peculiar and wide spread Flemish pieces of regional jewelry is a diamond heart pendant the so-called "Vlaams hart" (Dutch for “Flemish heart”). These hearts were fashionable in the 19th century and mostly made in gold backed silver (see also the silver on gold technique). A Flemish heart is a heart shaped field set with rose cut diamonds and/or senelles hanging under a crowning.

There are two sorts of crownings possible.

  1. The crowing is a crown and then it is build up from horizontal, diamond embellished, tendrils that are resting on a smooth surfaced ajour cut band with flattened little rhombic bars. The tendrils from the top incline slightly over this ajour cut band towards the actual cross emphasizing the unity of the jewel.
  2. The crowing as love trophy. A collection of four elements, a torch and quiver that are crossing each other, a bow that is horizontal mingled with them and all held together by a laurel. The slightly upwards direction of both ends of the bow refers to the St. Andrew's cross. Torch, quiver and bow are typical attributes to Amor (Eros) and the laurel refers to the triumph of love. This combination was already in use with the old Greek and Romans and later of course in the Renaissance and had a enormous success in France in the Louis XVI period (1774-1793).

Interesting thing is that in France this Flemish Heart is called a “un coeur Liégois” (a heart from the city Liège - a city in the French-speaking part of Belgium) but to the people in Liège this heart is called “un coeur flamand” (a Flemish heart).

The widely spread deep devotion of the Flemish people (Dutch speaking Belgians) for Madonna in the 18th and 19th Century (especially in Antwerp) is seen as the major cause for the existence of these Flemish hearts. They were given on Mother's day with the celebration of Maria. The crowned heart symbolises the heart of Maria in a rosary. The wreath of roses has a central loose hanging part with the nicest diamond in its center “beautiful and sparkling as the heart of Maria herself” surrounded by ten little diamonds. In Antwerp Mother's day is being celebrated at August 15th, the celebration pre-eminently of Maria. In all other places Mother's day is being celebrated at the second Sunday of May. This was proclaimed by the American president Wilson in 1914 and from there spread over the rest of the world.

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