History of Hairwork Jewelry

The history of hairwork jewelry dates back to ancient times, with its roots deeply intertwined with cultural and sentimental significance. This unique art form has evolved over centuries, from being a cherished memento in mourning traditions to a celebrated craft in contemporary society. In this article, we will delve into the captivating history of hairwork jewelry, exploring its origins, techniques, cultural significance, notable figures, and enduring legacy in the world of artistry.

Hairwork jewelry involves the use of human or animal hair to create intricate and delicate pieces of adornment. From rings and brooches to necklaces and earrings, these pieces showcase the skilled craftsmanship and sentimental value that have made this art form timeless. The tradition of hairwork jewelry spans across various cultures and regions, each with its own customs and symbolism attached to these pieces.

Throughout history, hairwork jewelry has been esteemed for its emotional resonance and artistic expression. We will explore the techniques and materials used in crafting these unique pieces, as well as famous examples and notable figures who have contributed to the rich legacy of hairwork jewelry. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the fascinating evolution of this art form and its enduring impact on history and artistry.

The Origin of Hairwork Jewelry

Hairwork jewelry has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times, with evidence of its existence found in various cultures around the world. The practice of creating jewelry from human hair can be traced back to as early as the 16th century, and it continued to evolve and gain popularity throughout history.

In ancient civilizations such as Egypt, hairwork jewelry was often associated with religious or spiritual beliefs, and it was believed to hold symbolic significance. Hair was considered a powerful symbol of life and vitality, making it a fitting material for crafting precious ornaments with deep cultural meaning.

Throughout the centuries, hairwork jewelry remained prevalent in different parts of the world, including Europe and Asia. In the 19th century, during the Victorian era, it reached new heights of popularity due to its association with mourning and sentimental remembrance. The use of hair in jewelry became a way for people to commemorate their loved ones after they had passed away.

Additionally, hairwork jewelry also gained prominence as a token of love and friendship between individuals. Locks of hair were often exchanged or woven into intricate designs as symbols of affection and connection. This practice persisted through the modern era, where contemporary artisans continue to create stunning pieces using traditional techniques.

The enduring legacy of hairwork jewelry speaks volumes about its timeless appeal and significance in the realm of artistry. From ancient customs to modern interpretations, this unique form of adornment continues to captivate people with its beauty and cultural relevance.

OriginAncient civilizations such as Egypt
Popularity PeakThe Victorian era in 19th century
ContinuationThrough modern era by contemporary artisans

Cultural Significance of Hairwork Jewelry in Different Regions

Hairwork jewelry has a long and storied history, with cultural significance in different regions around the world. From ancient times to the modern era, hairwork jewelry has been valued for its deep connections to love, loss, and remembrance. In many cultures, the practice of creating jewelry from human hair has been a way to honor loved ones and commemorate important life events.

In Victorian England, hairwork jewelry was often used as a way to memorialize the deceased. Locks of hair were carefully woven into intricate designs and set into rings, brooches, and pendants. These pieces served as tangible reminders of those who had passed away, allowing their memory to be carried close at all times. In some cases, hairwork jewelry was even exchanged between loved ones as tokens of affection and remembrance.

Similarly, in the United States during the 19th century, hairwork jewelry gained popularity as a means of expressing grief and sentimentality. Hair from deceased family members would be fashioned into pieces of jewelry that were worn by relatives as a way to keep their loved one’s spirit close. This culturally significant practice served as a form of mourning while also providing comfort and connection to those who had passed on.

In other parts of the world such as China and India, hairwork jewelry held different cultural significances. In these regions, wearing jewelry made from human hair was seen not only as a tribute to loved ones but also believed to offer protection or bring good luck. Each region brought its own unique customs and beliefs to the art of creating and wearing hairwork jewelry, adding depth and richness to its cultural significance throughout history.

Techniques and Materials Used in Creating Hairwork Jewelry

The art of creating hairwork jewelry dates back to ancient times, with evidence of its practice found in various cultures around the world. The techniques and materials used in this delicate craft have evolved over centuries, resulting in a rich history of intricate and sentimental pieces.

History of Spoon Bracelet Jewelry

One of the traditional methods for making hairwork jewelry involves weaving or braiding strands of human hair to form intricate patterns and designs. This meticulous process requires a high level of skill and attention to detail, making each piece unique and personalized.

In addition to weaving, other techniques such as knotting, coiling, and embroidery have been utilized in the creation of hairwork jewelry. These techniques allow artisans to create different textures and styles, adding depth and dimension to the final piece. As for materials, various metals such as gold, silver, and brass have been paired with human hair to create stunning pieces of jewelry. Gemstones, pearls, and enamel are often incorporated into these designs to add color and contrast.

During the Victorian era, hairwork jewelry reached the height of its popularity, particularly in mourning and sentimental pieces. Queen Victoria herself popularized the use of mourning jewelry made from human hair after the death of her beloved Prince Albert. This era saw an abundance of intricate brooches, rings, bracelets, and pendants made from hair as a way of commemorating lost loved ones. The sentimentality attached to these pieces further contributed to their significance in history.

In contemporary society, there has been a revival of interest in the art of creating hairwork jewelry. Modern artisans continue to explore new techniques and experiment with materials while honoring the traditions established throughout history. With a renewed appreciation for craftsmanship and personalization, individuals are seeking out custom-made hairwork jewelry as a way to preserve cherished memories or celebrate meaningful relationships.

Hairwork Jewelry TechniquesMaterials Used
WeavingMetals – Gold, Silver, Brass
KnottingGemstones – Pearls

Overall, understanding the history of hairwork jewelry provides insight into its enduring legacy as both an art form and a symbolic representation of personal connections. From ancient craftsmanship to modern interpretations, this unique form of adornment continues to captivate individuals across different cultures and generations.

Famous Examples and Notable Figures in the History of Hairwork Jewelry

When exploring the history of hairwork jewelry, it is important to recognize the notable figures and famous examples that have contributed to the enduring legacy of this unique art form. Throughout history, there have been individuals who have gained recognition for their exceptional skill in creating hairwork jewelry, as well as pieces that have stood the test of time as iconic examples of this craft.

Notable Figures

One such figure is Queen Victoria, who played a significant role in popularizing hairwork jewelry during the Victorian era. After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria wore mourning jewelry made from his hair as a way to commemorate his memory. This paved the way for a broader cultural fascination with sentimental jewelry crafted from human hair, and her influence is still felt today in the continued interest in this art form.

Another notable figure in the history of hairwork jewelry is John Wallis, an Englishman who gained acclaim for his intricate and detailed hairwork creations during the 17th century. His exceptional skill and innovative techniques elevated the craft to new heights, and his work continues to be admired and studied by contemporary artisans.

Famous Examples

One of the most famous examples of hairwork jewelry is a brooch made from the hair of US President George Washington. The brooch was created by an unknown artisan using strands of Washington’s hair, and it serves as a poignant reminder of both the individual’s significance and the cultural practices surrounding hairwork during that time period.

These notable figures and famous examples are just a few among many that have shaped the history of hairwork jewelry, demonstrating its enduring appeal and cultural significance throughout different eras.

Evolution of Hairwork Jewelry Trends Throughout History

Hairwork jewelry has a long and fascinating history, with trends evolving throughout different periods. From ancient times to the modern era, the styles and techniques used in creating hairwork jewelry have changed and adapted to reflect the cultural and societal influences of each time period.

Ancient Times: Symbolism and Ritual

In ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, hairwork jewelry was often imbued with symbolism and used in ritualistic practices. Hair was considered a powerful symbol of life and vitality, and as such, it held great significance in jewelry making. The use of hair in jewelry can be traced back to these early civilizations, where it was often used in amulets, rings, and other adornments.

The Renaissance: Intricate Designs and Symbolism

During the Renaissance period, hairwork jewelry saw a resurgence in popularity. Intricate designs featuring woven strands of hair were crafted into elaborate pieces that showcased the skill and artistry of the jeweler. Symbolism continued to play an important role during this time, with hairwork jewelry often being exchanged as tokens of love or friendship.

The Victorian Era: Sentimental and Mourning Jewelry

Perhaps the most well-known period for hairwork jewelry is the Victorian era, where it reached its peak in popularity. Hairwork jewelry became closely associated with mourning and sentimental remembrance during this time. Pieces were created from the hair of departed loved ones, serving as a tangible memento mori. The intricate craftsmanship and emotional significance of these pieces truly epitomized the sentimental nature of hairwork jewelry during this era.

Hairwork Jewelry in Victorian Era

During the Victorian era, the popularity of hairwork jewelry reached its peak, particularly as a form of mourning and sentimental jewelry. The mourning culture in this era was deeply entrenched in society, and hairwork jewelry became an integral part of the mourning process. It was not uncommon for people to commission hairwork pieces made from the hair of their deceased loved ones, serving as a tangible memento to keep their memory alive.

Jewelry History of Cosy Stamped on Jewelry

Hairwork jewelry in the Victorian era served as a way for individuals to express their grief and sentimentality, often incorporating intricate designs and symbolism related to loss and remembrance. The use of black enamel and jet in these pieces further emphasized their connection to mourning, with elaborate brooches, pendants, and rings becoming popular ways to carry a piece of the departed with them at all times.

In addition to mourning jewelry, sentimental hairwork pieces were also created during this time as tokens of affection and remembrance for loved ones who were still living. Locks of hair were woven into intricate patterns or enclosed within lockets as a way to symbolize eternal love and devotion.

This practice reflected the sentimental values of the Victorian era, where emotions were openly expressed through art and personal adornment. The Victorian obsession with sentimentality and remembrance contributed greatly to the enduring legacy of hairwork jewelry in history and artistry.

Revival of Interest in Hairwork Jewelry in Contemporary Society

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in hairwork jewelry within contemporary society. This resurgence can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a growing fascination with vintage and historical accessories, as well as an increasing appreciation for handmade and artisanal crafts. Here are some key reasons behind the revival of interest in hairwork jewelry:

1. Vintage Appeal: With the popularity of vintage fashion and accessories, many individuals are drawn to the unique and sentimental nature of hairwork jewelry. The intricate designs and personal significance of these pieces appeal to those who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of bygone eras.

2. Sustainable and Ethical Practices: In a time when sustainability and ethical consumerism are at the forefront of many people’s minds, there is a growing interest in heirloom pieces such as hairwork jewelry. These items offer a timeless quality that can be passed down through generations, making them both sustainable and meaningful.

3. Artisanal Revival: The resurgence of interest in traditional crafts has also contributed to the renewed popularity of hairwork jewelry. Many individuals are seeking out handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that showcase expert craftsmanship and attention to detail, making hairwork jewelry a sought-after choice for those who value unique, handcrafted items.

It is evident that the history of hairwork jewelry continues to inspire contemporary makers and collectors alike. As this timeless art form experiences a revival in modern society, it exemplifies how traditions from the past can still hold meaning and relevance in today’s world. Whether it’s through fashion, artistry, or personal sentiment, the enduring legacy of hairwork jewelry continues to capture the imagination of people around the globe.


In conclusion, the history of hairwork jewelry spans centuries and has left a lasting impact on artistry and cultural traditions. From its ancient origins to its revival in contemporary society, hairwork jewelry has continued to captivate and intrigue people around the world. The enduring legacy of this unique form of jewelry is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of artisans who have practiced this art form throughout history.

The cultural significance of hairwork jewelry in different regions cannot be understated. Whether it was used as a symbol of love and remembrance or as a way to honor the deceased, hairwork jewelry has played an important role in various customs and traditions. Its evolution throughout history reflects not only changes in fashion and trends but also the deeply personal and emotional connections that people have with their jewelry.

As we look back on the techniques, materials, and famous examples associated with hairwork jewelry, it becomes clear that this art form is truly timeless. The revival of interest in hairwork jewelry in contemporary society demonstrates its enduring appeal and relevance.

It serves as a reminder of the sentimental value that personal artifacts can hold, and the ways in which they can connect us to our past. The history of hairwork jewelry is indeed a rich tapestry woven into the fabric of human experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Culture Is Hair Jewelry From?

Hair jewelry is from various cultures, including Victorian England, ancient Egypt, and the Victorian era in America. Each culture had its own unique traditions and styles when it came to incorporating hair into jewelry.

What Is the History of the Hair Locket?

The history of the hair locket dates back to the 17th century when it became a popular way for people to remember their loved ones who had passed away. Hair from the deceased would be woven or placed inside a locket, often with other personal mementos.

Why Was Hair Used in Mourning Jewelry?

Hair was used in mourning jewelry as a way to keep a physical connection to the deceased. It was also seen as a way to honor and remember them by wearing something that contained a part of them. This practice was especially common during the Victorian era when mourning rituals were elaborate and prolonged.