Heart-shaped locket with key
The design of this locket is unashamedly sentimental.
Not only does it take the form of a heart, but a further layer of meaning can be read into the gemstones. Rubies, emerald, garnet, amethyst and diamond are arranged so that their initial letters spell out the word REGARD.
Lockets and gemstone messages were a way of both revealing and concealing secret passions.
England, about 1830-40
Gold, turquoise, ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond, glass and hair
Given by Gerald Harris, in memory of his wife Sylvia (1920-83)
This fashionably dressed young woman poses with a similar locket at the wrist of her right hand, suspended from a chain or ribbon. Jewels conveying such personal messages are rarely depicted in portraits.
Miss Ashton was known to share piano lessons with Princess Victoria, the daughter of the queen. She wears the ruby set given to her by the princess.