The history of the heart-shaped motif

The history of the heart-shaped motif

The heart shape as we know it comes from Medieval times.

11/01/2024     General News, Jewellery & Gems


Whilst heart shaped jewellery might be too on the nose for some for Valentine’s Day, it is still interesting to know the history behind the motif. The heart shape as we know it comes from Medieval times. A 13th c. French manuscript ‘Roman de la Poire’ or ‘Romance of the Pear’ by the poet, Thibaut, is thought to have one of the first depictions of the modern-day ‘heart’ shape. The motif in jewellery as we know it gained favour in the 16th century, symbolising romance, and affection. The motif was also believed to ward off evil spirits, heart shaped brooches used as talismans to protect the wearer. In the 18th century heart shaped jewellery were often set with garnets. Someone in love during this time might have worn a double heart motif to signify their commitment to their betrothed.

Queen Victoria popularised the use of the heart motif in jewellery. She was given a gold heart-shaped locket from her mother the Duchess of Kent which is inscribed, ‘Present from her Mother to her beloved Victoria on the First Anniversary of her Birthday 24 May 1820’. The locket contains both the Duke and Duchess of Kent’s hair. Queen Victoria was also given another heart-shaped locket containing a lock of hair of Prince Albert as a child.

Today the heart is widely accepted as the definitive symbol of love. Here are just a few examples from our January auction.


Natasha Bernon Cert GA

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