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Fashion Flashback: Lockets

by TALKINGFASHION TEAM 18 Oct 2018 0 Comments

Fashion Flashback: Lockets

by Morgan Watkins


An item of sentiment and utility, the locket is truly a dazzling antique to behold. With such a rich history and wide array of functions, lockets carry with them more than just dusty portraits. Keep on reading to expand your horizons on what makes lockets such special accessories.


While the earliest known lockets date back to the 16th century, it is said that they were initially inspired from ancient amulets and pendants from the Middle Ages. Some cultures wore lockets containing special charms to ward off evil spirits and energy, and although we now associate lockets with affection and love, they commonly carried items with less than sentimental value like herbs, perfume soaked fabric squares, and in sinister situations, poison. Locket necklaces were quite popular, but locket rings and brooches were also worn by those who could afford them. Queen Elizabeth I popularized the locket ring in 1575 with her one of a kind style holding portraits of herself and her late mother, Anne Boleyn. This tender display of familial love added significant meaning to the jewelry of this time, particularly with locket styles.


locket ring vintage jewelry

By the 1600s, lockets became symbols of political alignment. With the passing of King Charles I in 1649, supporters far and wide wore lockets containing his portrait to pay homage to his life and death. Some faithful King Charles advocates even managed to snag a lock of the king’s hair from his execution, which they then carried within their jewelry to commemorate his reign. While this may seem like an odd or extreme gesture, carrying the hair of a loved one within a locket was actually common practice in the 17th century, especially with the rise of mourning jewelry. These lockets were characteristically heavy, dark and contained the portrait of a lost loved one.



Commonly made from precious metals and gems, lockets and most other jewelry were primarily sold to those with considerable wealth during the 18th century. It was around this time that the iconic heart shaped locket was born. Ranging from a variety of different metals and finishes, heart shaped lockets, like mourning jewelry, contained locks of hair or portraits of lovers. Some were made of transparent materials, putting their love on display for the world to see. They were a sign of not only love, but also honesty, truth and purity.

By the late 19th century, lockets became less of an accessory for the rich and more of an item for everyone as cheaper materials were used to create more affordable jewelry. Also aiding in the widespread access of lockets was the improvement of photography, which made it easier for locket lovers to obtain quality and long lasting portraits to be inserted into their jewelry. Unisex lockets came in the form of pins, bracelets, buttons, rings and necklaces, making them items that could be worn by men and women alike.

With the presence of both World Wars came the emergence of sweetheart jewelry. The locket in particular was an essential jewelry item in the realm of sweetheart accessories, as soldiers would leave their loved ones with portraits of themselves stowed away in lockets while they were off on the battlegrounds. 20th century sweetheart lockets also became a sign of patriotism, as they displayed the wearer’s pride in their loved ones serving the country, as well as pride towards what their country was fighting for.



After the dust had settled on World War II, all that was left was mourning paired with hope for a better future. Lockets fell out of favor for decades, serving only as reminders of past times and people. But with the rise of vintage and antique inspired jewelry, lockets are slowly but surely re-emerging into the fashion spotlight. In recent years, revered fashion magazines like Elle and Vogue have rooted for lockets within online and print publications. Last winter, the Tory Burch Pre-Fall 2018 collection featured in Vogue displayed the gleaming Walnut Locket Necklace, which paired perfectly with a silky button up and bohemian maxi dress.



(Image from

Regardless of what you put in your jewelry, be sure to jump on the trend now by checking out for the latest and greatest locket styles out there! And if you have a locket of your own you’d like to pass on, we would love to consign with you. But please — keep any poison at home.


“A Sentimental History Of Lockets.” The Artyologist, 14 Feb. 2017,
“Locket History: Heart Lockets & Photo Keepsakes Through the Ages.”
With You

Lockets, Phelps, Nicole. “Tory Burch Pre-Fall 2018.” Vogue, 1 Dec. 2017,

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