A 19th-century woman - having just discovered her daughter's involvement in a scandalous event - reclines in her seat and reaches for her vinaigrette, flapping a fan rapidly before her face. A dashing gentleman carries the limp figure of a young lady to a sofa, setting her down gently and fetching a vinaigrette to revive her back to consciousness. Though these stereotypical scenes from Georgian and Victorian era novels might seem exaggerated, the vinaigrette really was a powerful tool to be produced in emotionally charged situations to restore the affected party back to their senses. But what, exactly, is a vinaigrette?...

A stunning Georgian acrostic vinaigrette pendant, designed as a gold book with six gems on the front spelling ‘Regard’ (ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond). It is covered with floral and foliate motifs on the front and back and opens to reveal a hinged pierced grill. Above it is suspended a small heart pendant with a glazed locket back, c.1820 - From Hancocks, London via Instagram

What is a Vinaigrette?

While antique 'vinaigrettes' don't have much to do with the French dressing, they do have something to do with vinegar. Popular from the late-18th century through to the mid-19th century, vinaigrettes were small and often ornate containers used for holding scents. The aromatic substances used, like perfume, essential oils, and herbs were often dissolved in vinegar or alcohol.

Vinaigrettes were commonly used to prevent fainting or to offer reviving vapors to someone who had fainted. Some 'reviving' sponges were soaked only in vinegar, while others were pleasantly scented. Scented vinaigrettes were also widely used to mask unpleasant odors in the wearer's surroundings, as well as for perfume while travelling. Many believed that pleasant smells offered protection against diseases.

A gold Georgian vinaigrette, c.1820-40, with chased detail, piercing, and engine turned decoration.

From @charlotteantiquejewels via Instagram

An antique French gold and vermeil vinaigrette - From @julia_little_treasures via Instagram

Victorian Enamel Vinaigrette Pendant Necklace - From Lang Antiques

A Brief History of Vinaigrettes

Vinaigrettes are closely related to the much older 'Pomander' - scent bottles valued for their medicinal and protective powers. These were generally large, bejeweled or patterned, and often shaped like fruit.

An Italian 14th-century pomander in the shape of an apple, with four segments that would originally have held spices or perfumes. The inscriptions record the story of the Judgment of Paris in which Paris was required to choose which of the three goddesses, Juno, Venus, and Minerva was the most beautiful. The result of his choice set the Trojan War in motion. - ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

A German 16th-century pomander engraved with attributes of Venus: amorini, forget-me-nots, roses, and gillyflowers (an emblem of fidelity). These alternate between three panels engraved with gods: Mars, his mother Juno with the peacock, and Venus with a heart in one hand and her son Cupid in the other. The pomander has six segments, labeled: Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Schlag (a composite of ambergris, musk, and civet- thought to be a remedy for stroke-like illnesses), Amber, Rosemary. - From Wartski

Scents were considered so important in warding off disease that people even carried in their hand vinegar-soaked pieces of sponge wrapped in orange peel for protection - Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII's advisor, was said to have been one such aromatic orange carrier. The Pomander and the aromatic orange were both eventually superseded by large 'pouncet boxes' and their variations (the sponge box, the smelling box, the essence box), which were then replaced in the Regency era by smaller 'aromatic vinegar boxes', later called 'Vinaigrettes'. These were often carried in a pocket or suspended from the waist.

During the 1770s, stronger and more intense kinds of aromatic vinegar were developed, meaning that the size of the containers used to carry them could be drastically reduced. By the late 18th-century, men and women had begun wearing vinaigrettes in unusual and exciting designs - suspended from chatelaines, placed in pockets, or worn as pendants, on bracelets, or on finger rings.

A fantastic Georgian scallop shell pendant, modeled in 3-color high carat gold. The back and front are decorated with turquoise and pearls, and the shell swivels open to reveal a tiny hair locket on one side, and a tiny vinaigrette on the other. - Antique Animal Jewelry

A rare Georgian Rococo 'objet de vertu' vinaigrette, with a body of striated gray agate fitted within a chased cagework of bloomed 15k gold, the interior with a pierced cover, and the bail in the form of a rope-weave handle, London, c.1760 - From @heartofhearts.jewels via Instagram and 1stdibs

French Object of Virtu: a Viniagrette c. 1780. A neoclassical urn carved from mother of pearl with 18-carat gold accents and two enameled ring-necked doves kissing on a branch. On white enamel around the lid reads, 'plutot mourir queue nous separens' - 'rather die than we separate'. The lid opens to a gold grille, which in turn opens to hold a scented cloth. Antique Animal Jewelry

An extremely rare antique vinaigrette snake ring in 18k yellow gold with enamel work and diamond eyes. A small compartment next to the snake's head opens to expose a vinaigrette.

From Lot-Art (Live Auctioneers)

Antique Georgian gold and enamel French vinaigrette pendant - From 1stdibs via Pinterest

Georgian hair mourning necklace with a vinaigrette pendant set with a large polished agate on both sides.

From Antique Jewellery Group via Ruby Lane

Antique jeweled ormolu (a gold-colored copper, zinc, and tin alloy) vinaigrette, c.1800s, with six round blue jewel stones, a central teardrop amethyst stone, and intricate filigree work.

Via Power of One Designs

Antique silver filigree vinaigrette ring, c.1800s - From Intuition Vintage via Etsy

Rare 1800s filigree flower basket vinaigrette - From @buybuybaby2020 via Instagram

A variety of unusually shaped Regency-era vinaigrette pendants, all in gold and set with turquoise: Horns, baskets, books, miniature letter-cases/envelope-shaped document cases symbolizing messages of love, a lyre with a vinaigrette compartment in the foot, a butterfly with two tiny compartments inside hinged wings, a loyal dog, etc., French, c.1810. - © The Trustees of the British Museum

Georgian pocketbook vinaigrette pendant, c.1820s. Modeled in 18k gold depicting roses, leaves, and a forget me not flower set with turquoise. The lid clicks open to reveal a pierced grill in the design of a basket full of flowers, with the scent-soaked sponge-like material lying beneath.

From The Three Graces

Georgian gold and champlevé enamel vinaigrette bracelet set with foil-backed stones (probably topaz or quartz). The bracelet has a central compartment that opens up to reveal pierced grillwork. Probably made in Switzerland, c.1820s. - Via PBS, Antiques Roadshow

An enamel vinaigrette depicting an Edenic scene - a bird of paradise above a serpent coiled around a tree. The reverse has a classic floral motif, the interior a chased grille with pomegranate. French, c.1820s

From @metierparis via Instagram

A Georgian vinaigrette pendant, given as a love token. Modeled in 14 karat gold and set with a large, faceted topaz. Two miniature charms hang from a chain: a key and a garnet heart - meaning 'you have the key to my heart.' The reverse is inscribed with the Arabic word, 'Azizaon', meaning it was given to a person as a sign of great affection, c.1820 - From Third Floor Antiques via Ruby Lane

A late Georgian Scottish citrine and gold vinaigrette, c.1820. The body is set with two faceted yellow citrines edged in gold which is heavily chased with a floral design and hinged at the back, opening to reveal a finely pierced gold grill. - From Hancocks, London via Instagram

A late-Georgian combination fob and vinaigrette, French, c.1820s-1830s. - Via Ruby Lane and Pinterest

A silver novelty acorn vinaigrette pendant, English, c.1820. From August September Antiques via Ruby Lane

A detailed gold vinaigrette with engine-turned covers on front and back, a repouseé-work chased border and bale, and an elaborate hand-pierced grille of giardinetto design, c.1825-30. From @ohmagpie via Instagram

A Georgian gold vinaigrette in the form of a purse bag, the front covered in cannetille decoration with two-color gold foliage and set with ruby and turquoise, the reverse with a bead star design on a stippled background. The interior reveals a simple pierced grille, c.1830. - From 1stdibs

A gold and enamel pendant vinaigrette painted with flowers on a turquoise background, Geneva, c.1835 ⁣

From @antiqueenamelcompany via Instagram

A vinaigrette pendant in the shape of an egg, in enameled 18k gold. French, c.1840.

From @loeildanthinea via Instagram

An early-Victorian acrostic heart-shaped vinaigrette pendant, the stones spell out 'REGARD' in ruby, emerald, garnet, aquamarine, ruby, and diamond. - Antique Animal Jewelry

A witches heart vinaigrette padlock pendant, French, c.1840. The padlock element works, and the front of the piece is encrusted with cabochon-cut pavé turquoise. It is hanging from two short ornate gold chains with matching turquoise cabochons and a half orb at the top. The back is finely engraved with flowers and leaves, and the heart opens to reveal a pierced vinaigrette grille with a motif of a bird and flowers.

From Laelius Antiques

A rare giardinetti vinaigrette ring in silver and 15k rose gold. Lapis lazuli lies beneath the giardinetti, which is set with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and rose-cut diamonds. On each side of the bezel, the gold engraved elements can be clicked outward. Hinged, the top lifts up to reveal a pierced decorative screen. Beneath it, a shallow compartment can hold the scent, c.1840 - From The Three Graces

A French bloomed and chased three-colour gold pendant vinaigrette on an engine-turned ground. The inside compartment has a pierced gold hinged cover in the form of a trophy of flaming hearts, arrows, and a quiver, c.1840 - © The Trustees of the British Museum

Antique gold and turquoise vinaigrette pendant in the shape of a book, English, c.1840

Via ALVR (A La Vieille Russie)

An early Victorian gold vinaigrette shaped as a satchel, the illusory flapped top lifts to reveal a protective hinged panel. This lifts yet again to reveal the final pierced grille, under which a perfumed sponge or cotton wad was placed. - From @karendeakin.antiques via Instagram

Believe it or not, this gold and silver brooch in the form of a hand holding a spray of forget-me-nots, set with turquoises and a small ruby with bell-shaped flowers in silver, is also a vinaigrette. The cuff at the base of the hand contains the subtle vinaigrette compartment, c.1850.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Castle top vinaigrette by Cronon & Wheeler in purse form, c.1852

From @antiqueenamelcompany via Instagram

A Victorian 18ct gold eagle vinaigrette locket, mounted with a shield-shaped bloodstone, c.1860

From Antique Jewellery Company

A rare novelty silver combined scent bottle and vinaigrette, made in the form of a telescope with attached chain and suspension ring. The middle of the outer body is covered in leather and the inner sleeve is made from bone. The vinaigrette is at the eyepiece end with a plain cover over a silver-gilt lift-out pierced grille. The scent bottle has a hinged cover engraved, 'Kittie'. By Thomas Johnson, London, 1868.

From @steppeshillfarm via Instagram

An early Victorian-era gold vinaigrette locket, crafted in 14K gold. Both the front and back have an engine-turned design with a repouseé-work chased border and bale, the front with a pearl halo and a compartment for gems or mementos, the back opening to reveal a floral motif grille.

From Alpha and Omega Vintage Jewelry via Ruby Lane

A Victorian vinaigrette pendant, featuring a meaningful hand-enameled floral bouquet of pansy, buttercup flower, and lilies set on a drop shape of natural lapis lazuli.

From @antiquevelvetgloves_jewellery via Instagram

A gold Victorian vinaigrette pendant in the form of a turtle with blue enamel shell, diamond legs, natural pearl head, and pink gemstone eyes, English, c.1870 - From @alavieillerussie via Instagram

A gold Victorian fob/vinaigrette with intricate granular details, set with amethysts, England, c.1880.

From Fable & Windsor via Ruby Lane

An extremely rare French silver-gilt and cranberry glass perfume bottle and vinaigrette in the shape of a pistol, suspended from a silver-gilt finger ring. The top unscrews for the scent while the handle features a pull-off cap to reveal the vinaigrette, c.1880 - From @antiqueenamelcompany via Instagram

Victorian novelty silver mussel shell vinaigrette with an elaborately pierced internal grille, made by Sampson Mordan & Co, London, 1883. - From Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Ltd

A late-Victorian French black enamel and openwork multipurpose reliquary/vinaigrette locket pendant.

From @zarafabrocantefrenchantiques via Instagram

An adorable mouse on a wicker basket charm, c.1890, with ruby eyes. The basket clips and hinges open so you can store a keepsake inside, or a scented cloth as a vinaigrette. - Antique Animal Jewelry

A Victorian sterling silver combined scent bottle and Vinaigrette in the form of a horn, with attached suspension chains. The horn's surface is finely embossed with birds and scrolling leaf motifs. The vinaigrette is in the larger end, which opens up to reveal a pierced grille. At the narrow end, there is a screw-off cover to a scent bottle. England, c.1890-1899 - Via 1stdibs

Antique Dog Fob whose perforated snout suggests he was once a vinaigrette. The base was sealed sometime in the past. Partial English hallmarks look to be for 1903-1904, and he is on a large bolt ring.

From @franziska_vintage_jewels via Instagram

For more rare Georgian and Victorian jewelry, follow Antique Animal Jewelry on Instagram.

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A few weeks ago, we mentioned fobs in our Gentlemen's Jewelry blog. In this week's blog, we take a more in-depth look at the delights and intricacies of animal-shaped fobs: from snakes and dogs to hunting fobs.

18-carat gold snake fob and split ring with a carnelian stone, c.1905

Antique Animal Jewelry

Two more views of the same c.1905 snake fob and split ring

Antique Animal Jewelry

What is a Fob?

Developed around the 1770s alongside the invention of pocket watches, a 'fob' often refers to the small ornaments that were suspended from watch chains, making the pocket watch easier to pull out of a pocket by adding weight to the chain and giving the wearer something to grab hold of. While fobs were worn by gentlemen in the Georgian era, they became very fashionable in the Victorian era, made particularly popular by Prince Albert (1819-1861). Given the strict Victorian dress code that meant that respectable men should only be seen wearing 'essential' jewelry, most fobs seen hanging from watch chains had practical as well as decorative or sentimental purposes. Many fobs had seals in the bottom, which were used to press a distinctive personal mark in the wax of a letter, note, or important document.

Snake Fobs

Three Georgian snake fobs, most of which are seals

Antique Animal Jewelry

French Victorian era 18k gold snake fob, the seal engraved with the French word 'Toujours' (always) From @curiouslytimeless via Instagram

A pre-revolutionary Russian fob depicting two intertwined snakes with their heads at the bottom of an oval base, winding their way up to the tails and a bail. The oval carnelian is engraved with the image of a rose bush a bee with a beehive in the background. The word 'Полезное' is Russian for beneficial, good for you, or useful - From @kirstenscorner via Instagram

A late Georgian/early Victorian carnelian fob with snakes, 9-14k, with three large uncarved carnelians set into the piece. One of the carnelians has a hinge and opens up to reveal a hidden compartment

From @kil_nyc via Instagram

Victorian snake fob with an amethyst bottom - From @runesandrebus via Instagram

Griffin & Lion Fobs

Large griffin fob seal from @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

18k Victorian double Griffin fob with an uncarved crystal seal base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

15k gold Victorian fob seal with two fierce lions. The monogram on the seal is J H E

From @jessicakagancushman via Instagram

14k gold Victorian lion fob with an uncarved bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold antique lion fob seal with an uncarved carnelian seal base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian lion fob with repousse work and an uncarved, rare shield base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Two Victorian lion fobs - from @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Dog/Hound Fobs

19th-century gold, silver, and bloodstone hound fob with a gold base and bale and tiny diamond eyes

Antique Animal Jewelry

19th-century French double hound fob, modeled in silver and gold, with a rock crystal seal

Antique Animal Jewelry

Five 9k-14k dog fobs on an 18k gold 20” chain - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

A Victorian hunting 'pointer' dog, c.1880, 14kt yellow gold with textured detail and garnet eyes. The base of the fob is a large, smoothly polished carnelian seal with a set of initials framed in a wheat-like border

Via 1stdibs

14k gold Victorian dog fobs, one with a sardonyx base and the other bloodstone

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique 18-carat gold fob of a seated hound, with carnelian uncut seal - Antique Animal Jewelry

Victorian 15k yellow gold seal fob of a dog, the seal is inscribed: 'Love Me, Love My Dog'

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

19th-century French fob modeled in silver as a bully breed dog, with gold collar and plinth, and a bloodstone uncut seal - Antique Animal Jewelry

Victorian 14k gold dog seal fob, the bloodstone seal reads 'Forget me not'

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

18-carat French fob designed as a seated sight hound. With a D engraved seal and tiny ruby eyes

Antique Animal Jewelry

14k Victorian dog fob with an elaborate seal base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k yellow gold Victorian Cocker Spaniel fob with a bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 10k gold dog fobs, one with a bloodstone base, the other carnelian

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Georgian/Victorian silver and 18k fob with a banded agate bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Double-sided Victorian 14k dog fob with original hook and garnet eyes

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique silver dog fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Georgian 14k gold poodle seal fob with citrine base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Early Victorian gold poodle fob with a pink foiled crystal seal From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Hunting Themed Animal Fobs

Antique fox fob seal and fox watch key - Antique Animal Jewelry

Fabulous gold fob c.1830 finely modeled with a hound and grouse and an uncut chalcedony base

Antique Animal Jewelry

Antique fob seal c.1820-30 with a hunting scene - a hare, a fox, and a hound, hiding in foliage, the bottom a bloodstone with rampant lion intaglio - Antique Animal Jewelry

Two Georgian hunting fobs, 18ct gold c.1810. The fob on the left depicts two hounds chasing a hare, with a bloodstone seal beneath depicting two hounds hunting a wild boar. The other is designed as a hound chasing a fox with a beautiful centerpiece of a Scottish thistle and a split ring with an intricate leaf design. The bottom is set with a large foiled citrine - Antique Animal Jewelry

Two Victorian 14k gold stag fobs with engraved bloodstone bases

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian deer fob with a banded agate base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Rare Victorian full-figured silver fox fob with a bloodstone seal

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Bird Fobs

A little bird next to a winter tree. The sardonyx agate below reads ‘tho absent not forgotten’

Antique Animal Jewelry

An early Victorian fob of a swan wrapped around a cross with garnet eyes and an uncut carnelian base

Antique Animal Jewelry

Two high carat Victorian fobs - a parrot watch key and an eagle fob, the seal having been replaced with a garnet at some point - Antique Animal Jewelry

14k silver Victorian fob of an eagle perched on a branch, c.1880, with a bloodstone base and garnet eyes

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold Victorian eagle head fob with a carved bloodstone base

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold early Victorian repousse bird fob with a carved amethyst base ('spare nought')

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

14k gold fob of a falcon/bird with ruby eyes, perched on a garnet bottom mount

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Other Animal Fobs

Victorian 14k gold eagle and snake fob with a bloodstone on one side and a finely engraved reverse

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 14k bunny fob with a bloodstone base - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique Victorian rabbit fob - From @franziska_vintage_jewels via Instagram

Charming vintage 9-carat gold fox/wolf fob with a bloodstone seal

Antique Animal Jewelry

14k gold mother sheep and baby lamb with gorgeous repousse and a large amethyst on the bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique gold ram fob with a seal base - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 12k gold cat or fox fob with an uncarved carnelian seal From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Victorian 18k gold bottle-top cat fob with diamond eyes From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique gold cat fob with textural detail and floral detailing at the base From Etsy, dealer unknown

A collection of rare and antique animal fobs - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

hallmarked gold early Victorian horse fob - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Two late Georgian/early Victorian fish fobs, 9-10k, one larger than the other with bloodstone and amethyst seals - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique entwined double animal fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 14k double horse fob with a repousse base and agate bottom

From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Antique animal fob - From Antique Jewellery Company

Victorian 14k ram fob with a sardonyx seal - From @victorianvintagetreasures via Instagram

Around the beginning of the 20th century, wristwatches began to gain popularity, replacing the pocket watch and rendering the watch chain obsolete. Fobs were no longer to be seen hanging from a gentleman's watch chain, but they were sometimes reused as charms on women's necklaces and bracelets.

To wrap up, here are some more collections of antique animal fobs that we love...

A stunning collection of animal fobs & a dog fob necklace from @jessicakagancushman via Instagram

An assortment of animal fobs from @spareroomantiques via Instagram

Dogs and snakes from @laelius.antiques via Instagram

For more rare Georgian and Victorian jewelry, follow Antique Animal Jewelry on Instagram.

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Where the 18th century is known as the age of sentiment and sensibility, the Victorian era is seen as the peak of this - the pinnacle of sentimentality. This 'culture of feeling' through the Georgian and Victorian eras is reflected strongly in the jewelry of the time. In terms of jewelry that expressed love and devotion to the living, since courting rituals were so strict and prohibitive in those times, intimacy and feeling couldn't be expressed verbally so was often instead encoded into things like flowers and jewelry. Today's blog looks at the use of romantic words in sentimental pieces, whether worn openly or hidden away.

Gold brooch set with pearls, hair, and with an ivory plaque painted in watercolor representing doves on a basin of applied gold foil, under the inscription L'Amour (Love). Often mass-produced, sentimental jewelry often bore generalized messages like this one, c.1775-1800 ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

L'Amitie, L'Amour, À vous dedié

The French language was used almost universally across Europe in sentimental jewelry, as it was considered to be the 'language of love'. For this reason a lot of antique jewelry exists bearing the message 'L'Amitie' (friendship) or 'L'Amour' (love).

Although 'L'Amitie' jewelry was often exchanged by friends as tokens of friendship, many of these pieces were also gifted as love tokens. Male suitors would present them to women they admired and were interested in, as it would have been considered indecent to send a token of 'love' at such an early stage of courtship. Mind you, even at the time of his marriage Earl Spencer gave his fiancee a ring of two turtle doves inscribed 'imitons les en amitie' (let us be friends like them). Friendship was a highly valued form of love and was often sought after as a foundation or fundamental part of any romantic relationship.

An 18-carat gold octagonal ring with guilloche behind blue enamel and transparent glass with an enameled cartouche decorated with gold ribbons with the text ‘Amitié’ (friendship), 18th century, France

Via Inez Stodel Antique Jewellery

Cut Paper Pendant from Schmuck by Brigitte Marquardt - page 178 - 'AMITIE'

The paper cuts were made by folding several layers of paper

Sentimental antique French 'A L’amitie' ring en grisaille in a slim lozenge shape bordered with pearls

Antique Animal Jewelry

Georgian era French 'A L’ Amitie' ring

Antique Animal Jewelry

Georgian 'Gage D'amitie' (token of friendship) ring

Antique Animal Jewelry

Georgian ring, c.1780. The symbolism suggests that this could be a betrothal ring: at the top, a bow, symbolic of a union in love/marriage, is made of hair and gold thread. 'Sacré à l’Amitié' (sacred to (our) friendship) is bordered by the same thread and a halo of pearls, which symbolize innocence and loyalty. The entwined initials at the bottom, MJ, likely belong to the two people in the union

From Harding and Griffin via Etsy

Georgian 'Gage D'amitie' (token/pledge of friendship) ring

Via Jewelry Nerd

Antique 'Gage D'amitie' (token/pledge of friendship) beaded bracelet

Antique Animal Jewlery

More common as a gift in the later stages of courtship such as after engagement or marriage are pieces of sentimental jewelry featuring the word 'L'Amour' (love) or phrases like 'À vous dedié' (dedicated to you). Jewelry bearing these kinds of generalized messages became very commonly produced by jewelers.

This secret compartment ring featuring a white rose against a dark blue enamel background is designed in the shape of an envelope, opening like a love letter to reveal the hidden word 'Amour', France, c.1840. Secret compartment rings shaped like this were popular in the 1830s and 40s in both rings and pendants

Alice and Louis Koch Collection, featured in The Power of Love by Beatriz Chadour-Sampson

Georgian pendant with a heart-shaped glazed compartment within a ribbon bow border, highlighted with white enamel and circular-cut rubies, the enamel inscribed 'L'amour est doux' (Love is sweet)

Via Bonhams

Pendant with a gold frame, enclosing a composition in mother of pearl and seed pearls on blue enamel of an altar inscribed 'A Vous Dedié' (dedicated to you) with flaming hearts above and a basket of flowers, under glass, c.1775-1800 - ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

An antique ring with an elongated hexagonal bezel, 'Dedié À Vous' (dedicated to you)

Antique Animal Jewelry


Mizpah rings became particularly popular in the mid-to-late 1800s as a token of friendship or love. 'Mizpah' is a Hebrew word from the biblical story of Jacob and Laban in Genesis, literally translating as 'watchtower'. In the biblical story, it marks the agreement between Jacob and Laban that God will watch over each of them when they are parted, to ensure that they both stay true to the promise they have made.

In sentimental jewelry, Mizpah rings were therefore often exchanged between sweethearts before a period of separation, as a promise of continued loyalty, love, and devotion while away from each other and the sentiment, 'may God watch over you'. People really did believe that the biblical power of the word Mizpah would provide loved ones with safety on their travels and ensure their eventual reunion. Some of the pieces are also engraved with the biblical phrase, 'The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another'.

The romantic Victorian ring on top features Mizpah as a secret message, concealed by two hearts pierced by an arrow, the hearts set with a diamond and a ruby, Birmingham, 1893. The Victorian Mizpah ring below is fully hallmarked for Birmingham, 1874

Antique Animal Jewelry

Victorian 18ct gold and diamond ring which opens up to reveal the word Mizpah, the cover decorated with a heart and two ivy leaves on either side, set with old-cut diamonds, symbolizing everlasting love

From Fable & Windsor via Ruby Lane

Victorian black enamel Mizpah ring fully hallmarked for Birmingham, 1873

Antique Animal Jewelry

Two Victorian Mizpah gold rings

Form @davinjewelry via Instagram

Victorian 18k yellow gold Mizpah ring with two hearts set with old mine-cut diamonds, c.1896

From The Three Graces

A collection of hallmarked 18k & 9k antique Mizpah rings

From @eatjewels via Instagram

A collection of antique Mizpah rings

From @turquoise_row via Instagram

With the expansion of the British empire underway in the 1800s, long periods of separation between sweethearts were common. The desire to travel called many young men away, as did the Crimean War and the American Civil War. The popularity of Mizpah rings dropped off around the late 1880s but experienced a revival in the early 1900s when men were called upon to fight in the Great War (WWI).


The words 'souvenir' in French or 'remember' in English are most commonly found in mourning jewelry from the Georgian and Victorian eras. However, these words were also sometimes used in jewelry expressing love and devotion for the living - in particular, during a period of separation, to be held close as a keepsake of the other person.

Georgian 'souvenir' ring, a keepsake with flaming hearts symbolizing passionate love

Antique Animal Jewelry

A very rare Victorian transforming book bracelet in high carat gold, engraved with a spine set with turquoise. The pages open to reveal the word SOUVENIR (remember), c.1840.

Antique Animal Jewelry

A collection of antique 'souvenir' bracelets and a German 'erinnerung' (memory/remember) bracelet

From @jessicakagancushman via Instagram

A collection of antique 'souvenir' bracelets

From @parishotelboutique via Instagram

Victorian 18kt Seed Pearl ‘Souvenir’ Bracelet

From A. Brandt + Son (@abrandtandson) via Instagram

French Victorian 18k gold 'souvenir' brooch with diamond leaves, pearl, and enamel, in a scroll banner

From @parishotelboutique via Instagram

Georgian Sailor’s ring, handwoven around cat gut and or fish bone/whale bone, to spell out ‘remember’ a sentimental gift to hold close across the oceans

Antique Animal Jewelry

19th-century Russian silver hinged cuff bracelet with black enamel lettering in Russian, which means ‘a memory’, possibly like the sentiment 'souvenir'

Antique Animal Jewelry

AEI & Ever Thine

AEI comes from the Greek word for 'Always', symbolizing everlasting love, and was a popular addition to both love and mourning jewelry in the mid-to-late 1800s. 'Everthine' or 'Ever Thine' was a similar sentiment of being forever dedicated to the other person.

Although this one is a mourning ring, AEI was used in both love and mourning jewelry. The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning owned a ring with the same motto, which her husband Robert Browning wore on his watch-chain after her untimely death. Gold, black enamel, AEI inscribed in diamond sparks

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Late Victorian AEI ring modeled in 18k gold, the lettering set with old-cut diamonds, c.1890

Via Butter Lane Antiques

Blue and black Victorian AEI enamel bangles with the lettering picked out in pearls

From @goldenponyworkshop via Instagram

Victorian AEI yellow gold oval enamel locket with hair

Via Lancastrian Jewellers

Solid gold sweetheart brooch with a secret sentiment, ‘Everthine’, concealed under a hinged door, decorated with three-colour gold ivy leaves (yellow, white, and rose gold) representing the lasting nature of true love, attached to a rounded heart, set with a tiny glistening rose-cut diamond, Chester, 1910

From @victoriousantique via Instagram

I Cling to Thee

'I Cling To Thee' was a popular phrase in the Victorian era. It might seem a little strong as a sentiment now, but the Victorians were a very sentimental bunch, and this phrase represented a lasting and passionate love, often used on wedding bands.

Victorian 'I Cling To Thee’ ring, 1869

From @pilondon_ via Instagram

Victorian fully hallmarked 15ct 'I cling to thee' ring, 1887

From @summertrianglestudios via Instagram

I'm Yours, Darling & Other Phrases

Phrases like 'I'm yours' in various languages, 'darling' and many more with general and personal meanings were also popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras.

Sentimental Victorian ring with a diamond-set star design concealing the word 'Darling' underneath the hunged panel, hallmarked for Birmingham, 18 carat gold, 1893

Antique Animal Jewelry

Late Victorian diamond and blue guilloche enamel banner which would likely have hung below Prince of Wales Feathers on a brooch, in jeweled letters is the message, 'ICH DIEN' (I'm yours/I serve)

Antique Animal Jewelry

Inscribed, 'I count the hours until we meet again' in German

From Jewelry of Power, Love, and Loyalty by Diana Scarisbrick - p.99

'I count the hours until we meet again' German ring with seed pearls and a pearl border

Antique Animal Jewelry

From Schmuck 1780 - 1850, by Brigitte Marquardt - page 412

Decorated with gold wire rays again, and inscribed 'Ewig Dein' (Forever yours)

Swiss National Museum Collection

To wrap up, here are a few more pieces with sentimental inscriptions from AAJ:

For more rare Georgian and Victorian jewelry, follow Antique Animal Jewelry on Instagram.

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