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Brooch

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1754 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver openwork set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies, and enamelled gold with hair

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.121-1962

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 81, shelf D5, box 1

Hair had long been important in sentimental jewellery, but during the 18th century it took on a new prominence. It could now form the centrepiece of a jewel, arranged in complicated motifs or as plain, woven sections. Tiny fragments of hair could even be incorporated into delicate paintings. Some designs were made by professionals, but many women chose to work the hair of loved ones themselves, using gum to secure their creations. Hair jewels were worn to cherish the living as well as to remember the dead. The survival of many pieces celebrating love and friendship indicate their great social importance

This mourning jewel set with a panel of hair was worn suspended from a diamond and pink sapphire bow. The inscription on the enamel scroll commemorates Elizabeth Eyton who died age 81 in 1754. Testators frequently left money in their wills to make commemorative jewels, most often rings, which were distributed at the funeral or given to named recipients. This jewel, which was set with Elizabeth’s own hair, is likely to have been made for a family member or close friend. Black enamel generally showed that the deceased was married, as white enamel was often, though not universally, used for children and unmarried adults. When Lady Louisa Cathcart’s brother died at sea in 1788, she designed a ‘large lockit, with a little black ribbon bow, to be worn always with Hair which I have got enough of for four, and a little inscription in black & white enamel...we might have them all the same to wear always - I think it would be comforting.’

Physical description

Brooch composed of a silver openwork bow, set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and pink sapphires over foil, and enamelled gold ribbon, also set with gems and inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81, surrounding a hair locket

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1754 (dated)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver openwork set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies, and enamelled gold with hair

Marks and inscriptions

inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81

Dimensions

Height: 3.3 cm, Width: 2.6 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm

Object history note

The pin appears to be a later addition, added to transform an earlier jewel into a brooch.

Descriptive line

Brooch composed of a silver openwork bow, set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and pink sapphires over foil, and enamelled gold ribbon, also set with gems and inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81, surrounding a hair locket, England, dated 1754

Materials

Silver; Gold; Diamond; Pink sapphire

Subjects depicted

Openwork; Bow (ribbon); Mourning

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Death

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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