We want it back: Memento Mori jewelry

We want it back: Memento Mori jewelry
12/28/2015 Alicia L.

“Carpe Diem …. Memento mori” or in other words, “Seize the moment … remember that you will die”.

It is a Latin aphorism that reminds us of the passage of time and the ephemeral nature of our existence. The first part of the sentence is known, positive, motivating the second… nobody wants to hear about the second part.

memento mori jewelry

Vanitas by Harmen Steenwijck

There was a time when death was integrated into everyday life, it was not a concept that people tried to push aside as it is now. The term Memento Mori or Vanitas art was also used to describe a kind of art intended to remind us that time passes and we can’t avoid death: still life with withered flowers, rotten fruit, hourglasses… usually with a human skull.

memento mori jewelry

Also, it describes a kind of jewelry made from XVI to XVIII century.This jewelry was created on purpose after the loved one’s death and it contained something directly related to them: a lock of hair, a post mortem picture, tears or umbilical cords in the case of deceased babies…

This practice came into vogue after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1819-1901) after the death of his mother and her husband in a short period of time promised to mourn the rest of his life and wear a ring with hair from her husband. People took this idea and it grew into something popular.

memento mori jewelry

These macabre pieces of  jewelry were the only jewelry that women could wear during the mourning period. Although the subject was death and its function was show the grief and loss at the passing of a loved one, they were not exactly poor jewelry. The materials used to be gold, black amber, and enamel.

Cameos with the face of the deceased were the most popular piece together with the rings. Often these jewels had carved sentences related to death.
memento mori jewelry

This post is a snack. If you want to investigate more about this type of jewelry, the web art of mourning it is a great source of amazing information.

Images via: artofmourning.com & kotomi

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