Brooch thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Brooch

1754 (dated)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.’



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver openwork set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies, and enamelled gold with hair
Brief 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, England, dated 1754
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
Dimensions
  • Height: 3.3cm
  • Width: 2.6cm
  • Depth: 0.8cm
Marks and Inscriptions
inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
The pin appears to be a later addition, added to transform an earlier jewel into a brooch.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.’



Collection
Accession Number
M.121-1962

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record createdJuly 19, 2006
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