M18679 | Bracelet

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1840-1860, 19th century
3.7 x 15.2 cm
Gift of Miss M. Gould
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Bracelet (29)
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Keys to History

Jewellery made from hair was very popular in the mid-19th century.

Symbols of life, hair has long been associated in many societies with funeral rituals. This piece of mourning jewellery, worn during this period in memory of the deceased, was a reminder of the inevitability of death. However its price, sometimes high, also made it a symbol of social status.

When the hair was that of a friend or living relative, the piece of jewelry was worn as a token of esteem. This one, however, was no doubt made from the hair of a deceased person and worn in his or her memory. Such jewelry was not acceptable during the period of deep mourning, when only jet accessories were permitted.

  • What

    Hair is a material that can be braided, woven, sown, knotted and coiled to produce all kinds of shapes and patterns. Horsehair was also used for this type of jewelry.

  • Where

    Not all hair jewelry was made by jewellers. Magazines explained to their readers how to make it at home.

  • When

    This kind of jewelry had existed in Europe since the late 17th century.

  • Who

    Bracelets, necklaces, earrings and watch chains were made of both men's hair and women's hair.