History of Cremation Jewellery: Where it all Began and How it’s Evolved

Remembering loved ones with funeral jewellery, such as cremation rings, dates back centuries. However, it’s only been during the last 200 years that the trend grew in popularity. Review how cremation jewellery began and how it’s evolved into the modern statement pieces we see as memorial jewellery today.

Emergence of memorial jewellery dates back hundreds of years

The appeal of original memorial jewellery relied on creativity and craftsmanship, and could not lean on the technology used in modern jewellery creation of today. Materials used in the beginning of memorial jewellery usually consisted of:

  • Wood
  • Rocks
  • Metal

A typical piece of remembrance jewellery from this era was often engraved with images of the deceased or had built-in compartments that held small portions of physical remains.

Cremation pendants, bracelets, brooches, and rings often featured strands of hair from the deceased that were plaited into intricate works of art. Typically, an image of a bundle of wheat, a tree, or another object found in nature was designed from the hair and displayed within a jewellery setting such as a brooch or cufflink.

Queen Victoria Era is credited with the initial popularity of cremation jewellery

Memorial jewellery has existed since the 16th century at least, but the emergence of the trend is most commonly attributed to its roots during the Victorian era. Mass production during this time period made funeral jewellery more available and affordable to the public.

Queen Victoria herself made the custom mainstream by her public mourning and display of memorial jewellery following the death of Prince Albert in 1861. In fact, the mourning period included even members of her court that wore black for decades following the event.

The trend of wearing all black worked its way into more than just clothing. The memorial jewellery that emerged from this era featured a heavy use of jet black, which was made from various materials, including:

  • Fossilized coal
  • Black glass
  • Enamel
  • Bog oak
  • Vulcanite

Lockets are a popular type of memorial jewellery that came from the 19th century, and continue to be a favorite piece even today. Typically, a photo of the deceased or a lock of their hair is placed inside of the locket and it’s worn on a chain as a necklace.

Before the late century brought about more options for cremation jewellery, it was a common practice to have the name and sometimes the birthdate and death date of the deceased engraved along the inside band of a ring or bracelet.

Modern-day cremation jewellery takes a new spin on an old concept

Cremation jewellery of today bears little to no resemblance to the memorial jewellery of the past. As cremation continues to climb in popularity and is becoming the preferred choice of bodily disposition for the majority, new styles and trends in the memorial jewellery industry continue to emerge.

Ashes can be suspended in glass beads that can be placed in a necklace, ring, paperweight, or even earrings. Another creative approach with cremation ashes is to swirl them into a design that is mounted and covered with glass and can be used in a tie pin, tie clip, cufflinks, or rings.

Even watches can be adorned with cremation jewels, such as memorial diamonds, which are literally created from the very ashes of a deceased loved one. More popular uses of these gems include setting them in a ring, a bracelet, or in a pendant that is fastened to a chain that can be worn close to the heart at all times.

At Heart In Diamond, we are fascinated with the past styles and history of cremation jewellery. It’s an honour to offer our contribution as a leading provider of memorial jewellery in our current era as we push on through this 21st century.