The lockets, a window on being human.

I am sure that you too have in your eyes the image of some old lady or even your grandmothers with a locket hanging from their necks that contained photos of her husband, children, grandchildren. They have always fascinated me, I used to think that they had something magical. These hidden chambers could also be found in rings or buttons.


 But when was the use of these lockets born?

A very ancient custom

The idea of wearing a symbol of the beloved on one's body dates back to the early years of civilization. In the Song of Solomon which was written 3000 years ago it is said  "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm". From the Renaissance, portraits began to be included in thelockets, they were painted or drawn portraits, real miniatures.

A late 17th-century locket, depicting the head of King Charles I
A late 17th-century locket, depicting the head of King Charles I

Queen Victoria, mourning, friendship.

The first pendant with a photograph dates back to around 1840. It was in the time of Queen Victoria that this custom of wearing lockets with photography spread. Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a bracelet with 8 lockets that contained photos of their children. When the Prince died, Queen Victoria wore every day a locket with Albert's photo as a memorial. The lockets often contained pieces of family story but could also contain the portrait of a King and be worn by the most loyal subjects, in this regard watch the movie Victoria and Abdul which talks about Queen Victoria's friendship with one of her indian servants, who became in the last years of the queen's life, her most faithful friend and received from her a locket with the royal portrait as a gift (the film is based on the true story of Abdul Karim which you can also find on Wikipedia). 

Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim
Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim

The promise of marriage


These medallions could contain, in addition to the portrait of the loved one, also a tuft of hair, a piece of cloth impregnated with his perfume and other objects that evoked his presence, or even some poison.


For example, in Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" refers to the custom of marriage proposals that were considered accepted when the woman wore the photo and a tuft of her beloved's hair around her neck.

World wars and hope

The custom of wearing a locket with the photo of loved ones became even more established during the First World War where soldiers gave their loved ones or mothers a locket with their own photo which was a hopeful warning to see each other again soon. In the United States, they became so popular that they were sold in post offices, empty, filled with photos and then shipped anywhere to the front. This custom continued throughout the entire period of the Second World War.

The profound meaning of the locket

Lockets are a window to the past, a symbol of love and, more than a jewel, they are the symbol of what it means to be human. Lockets have unique strength and magic in telling stories and protecting secrets. I made my fair godmothers wear them. My fairy godmothers are three and they are sisters, each wearing a locket that contains the photos of the other two so, when they will be adopted and separated, they will always keep the memory of the other two sisters.


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