By the 1780s, many of the shapes in memorial and sentimental jewels that were common remained the popular standard. From the 1720s to the 1830s, the rectangular shapes remained popular (in two separate eras), the oval shape and the round shapes in rings and pendants remained consistent, while it was only the navette shape that entered into the popular lexicon and left, returning to the oval and rectangular shapes of the early 19th century. Much of this is due to necessity. When I write about the shape itself, for sentimental and memorial jewels, these shapes were used to accommodate a particular dedication or memento. As these are the jewels of which house the memory and token of a loved one’s existence, the jewel needs to present this memory in a way that can be obvious to the external viewer that it is a token of love. Often, these jewels were either presented in the house or worn outside the costume, hence their size and meaning was all the more important.
Society and its structure, often indoctrinated by state or religion, has much to do with this. Technological improvements and the changing of fashion, leading to faster and smaller methods of production (particularly during the Industrial Revolution) could quickly and cheaply produce a keepsake for a loved one. During the Napoleonic Wars, with their high levels of mobility, the love token was an important element in remembrance for a loved one, hence the differing levels of quality in love tokens. Nevertheless, the jewel presented here shows a wonderful cross between the mid 18th century and the turn of the 19th century.
With its large shape, presented so as to show the hairwork as its focal point, the jewel shows signs of the latter 18th century and this shape would still be in production until the advent of photography in the 1840s. What is wonderful about sentimental jewels of this sort is that the relation to the ‘Georgian Heart’ motif is potent in that the hairwork dedication is the heartbeat of the piece, as the jewels and the ancillary symbols pulsate outwards from this. And the jewel is worn over the heart, hence its dual meaning.
The ribbon motif, as seen in the following examples:
Is the obvious tie to the middle of the 18th century, along with the rounded reverse of the gold.
Look to the following pieces for their relation to the north/south gem settings (here in emeralds), for the flanking of symbolism to the initial piece:
However, where they are integrated with the ribbon/bow motif, this piece feels like the interior pearl/hairwork/oval area was the original focus and the addition of the ribbon motif and southern emerald was an extra element added.