Sending a love letter spelled out in precious stones makes the perfect gift for the one you love…
Words: Sally Norton
If you want to know what gems have to say, you need to learn the language of stones. Popular since the early 1800s, it was the Victorians who really fell for the idea of ‘acrostic jewellery’ – referring to the method of using the first letter of the name of each stone to spell out a secret word, saying or message.
For instance, in this pendant from the 1830s, the word L.O.V.E. is spelled out using Lapis lazuli, Opal, Vermeil and Emerald. In this brooch from the same period, the word R.E.G.A.R.D., a very popular message, is spelled out using a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond. You can see them both in the jewellery gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Plan your visit at vam.ac.uk.
In the early 1900s, the suffragettes used the power of jewels, too, with Green, White and Violet stones being chosen for their hidden acrostic message of Give Women the Vote.’
Victorian pieces come up regularly in jewellery auctions, making a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. However, if you find terms of endearment like ‘R.E.G.A.R.D. ’ too old-fashioned and you would love to create a modern piece, there are bespoke jewellers on hand to help.
Take Jessica McCormack, for example – the Mayfair jeweller to the likes of Madonna and Rihanna – who offers cupfuls of all sorts of gems and a special iPad app to encourage her customers to create rings embedded with secret messages. She has a complete alphabet of stones available for you to rummage through, from amethyst to zoisite, allowing you to create whatever message you like. Visit jessicamccormack.com.
What’s more, it seems that using precious stones in all sorts of symbolic ways is increasingly popular when it comes to commissioning bespoke pieces of jewellery for loved ones.
‘I have been asked to make pieces of jewellery which reflect a client’s name, birthday, nationality, history and agenda,’ she says. ‘One client commissioned me to make a brooch to give to his wife to mark their 60 years of marriage. The design was based around the initials of his wife’s name. Another commissioned me to make a gold eternity ring to celebrate the birth of a child. It was set with rubies, the birthstone of their new child. The possibilities are endless.’ Visit tessapackard.com.
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