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.

Heart-shaped locket with key

 

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Heart-shaped locket with key

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)
V&A: M.6-1986

Miss Ashton Seated at the Piano

 

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.

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Miss Ashton Seated at the Piano

England, 1857
By Joseph Middleton Jopling
Watercolour heightened with white

Photo courtesy Christopher Wood. Private collection