Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mastery of Design: The FIDELLE ET SECRET Locket, 1780

England, 1780
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Though locks of hair had long been kept within compartments in sentimental jewelry, by the Eighteenth Century, the use of hair as a medium took on new distinction. Instead of just being housed in a jewel, hair became a part of the design and was used to make complicated patterns, ornate motifs and even delicate images. Such pieces were meant to not only honor the memory of the deceased, but also to show an attachment to someone living. 

This enameled English gold locket from 1780 features a design in hair on ivory with a watercolor inscription under glass. The painted monogram—M.C.G.—is traced with hair and a delicate (and barely visible now) pattern is set behind  the motto “Faithful and Secret” in French--FIDELLE ET SECRET. The back of the piece is set with more hair.

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