Though their uses have been widely varied; lockets have been around for hundreds of years. Early uses can be traced all the way back to ancient times. Nowadays we cherish lockets as keepsakes and beautifully intricate pieces of jewelry but their original purpose had a much darker side. In ancient times lockets were designed for a much more sinister purpose. In those days lockets were more often worn on the finger in ring form. Making enemies back then could be extremely dangerous to your health. The lockets of ancient times were popular for storing poison that was easily accessible should someone wish to eliminate a rival or anyone else they saw as a threat. Women simply opened their lockets into whatever drink they were serving their enemy and their problem was solved. Though it may seem farfetched; this concept was more common back then than you would think.
In Victorian times lockets became widely popular and sought after. They had evolved fully from their dark history into a much sought after elegant adornment for ladies. The designs of the lockets became very intricate and they were no longer a simple storage unit. Fine metals and gemstones were used to create beautifully elegant pieces of jewelry that were suddenly all the rage. Cameo lockets were especially beautiful and popular. Lockets were now one of the most sought after gifts to give a lady. These lockets were designed to lay right on top of the wearer’s heart and held precious mementos that often represented the giver of the gift. It was during this era that lockets began to be used to hold ashes or a lock of hair from a lost loved one as a symbol of mourning.
During the Civil War era lockets once again surfaced and gained popularity. This time they added another use. As men headed off to fight in the war they gave their wife or lover a locket as a symbol of hope. It was a promise of their return and the hope was that the locket would remain empty until they arrived safely home again. Unfortunately many became symbols of mourning as brave men lost their lives in battle and a memento was placed inside the locket for remembrance.
Throughout the years lockets have had many other uses as well. In the early twentieth century there was no such thing as anti-perspirant or deodorant so ladies took to wearing lockets with perfume dipped cotton inside. Lockets were also used by many to carry medicines as it was a way of keeping it close on hand. Superstitious women wore charms or herbs inside their lockets to ward off evil spirits. At one point artists were commissioned to paint tiny portraits that would fit inside a locket as they didn’t have the capacity to create tiny photos that we have today.
Lockets are still quite popular as part of a woman’s jewelry collection. Many people dedicate their time to searching out and purchasing some of these vintage lockets from the Victorian Era and beyond. For the rest of us, there are plenty of new intricate designs that either mimic those old fashioned styles or showcase a new era of lockets.
At one point and time, heart shaped lockets were the most popular. Now they are also available in round and oval shapes as well as the occasional oddly shaped designs. Today the most common use for lockets is to store a tiny photo or photos of loved ones or perhaps a tiny love note between lovers. If you are shopping for a locket there are plenty of choices out there. Silver, gold, and platinum are all used to create beautiful keepsake lockets that can be passed down from generation to generation. A wide variety of more affordable locket designs are also widely available making giving the gift of a locket affordable for everyone. With so many designs, styles, and price ranges; there’s a locket to suit any budget and style.
There’s no denying that lockets have quite an interesting history. The jewelry piece that once started as a poison storage unit evolved over many years to a storage piece for precious keepsakes and mementos. The one thing that has remained