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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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See our: locket jewelry.

A small case, usually with a hinged lid, for a memento, such as a photograph, miniature, lock of hair, etc., and usually worn suspended from a neck chain.

Such pieces have been made of gold, silver or other metal, decorated with enamelling or engraving and often set with gemstones. The locket was a development of the hinged reliquary pendants of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the 16th century the Sovereign presented hinged pendants that enclosed a portrait of him- or herself, and other lockets a more personal nature were made.

In succeeding centuries gold lockets, decorated with enamelling and gemstones, were worn as jewelry, but often enclosing miniature portraits and locks of hair, and later photographs, many being in the 18th and 19th centuries (and especially in the Victorian era) betrothal or sentimental gifts. Lockets are worn less often today, but antique examples are much sought.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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