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Heart Shape Jewelry

Origins of the Heart

Ah love, sweet love. How wonderful it is to be in love with someone. You just want to tell everyone you know, and shout it from the rooftops. And you only need one symbol to express your love, the heart. The heart shape conveys love, romance, passion and care without ever saying a word. The heart is one of the most widely used motifs in jewellery design, from rings and pendants to diamond cuts. The heart is everywhere. But how did the heart shape come to define love? And why does the common heart shape look so very different from the anatomical heart? Let’s look through history and find out how the heart shape came to be.

Ancient Hearts

Like most things from long, long ago, we don’t know the exact origin of the heart as a romantic symbol. Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the seed of life, and that the “heart soul” descended from the mother’s heart into her womb and would then take the shape of a child. The Ancient Greeks thought the heart supplied the whole body with heat and controlled reason and emotion.

In terms of the shape, it was most likely derived from the botanical world. One line of thinking is that the now extinct Silphium seedpod was the original model for the heart shape. This seed originated in the Ancient North African city of Cyrene and was used as a seasoning, and more commonly, as a contraceptive. The seed was highly valuable and so crucial to Cyrene’s economy that its image was portrayed on their coins. The seed very closely resembles the heart shape and its link to sexuality may have led to its association with love.

The earliest heart shapes found in art were stylized depictions of fig leaves and ivy. These leaves were frequently found on Ancient Greek vase paintings of the god Dionysus, often in erotic scenes. Heart shaped ivy leaves were also a common symbol on Grecian and Roman grave stones, as the plant symbolized eternal love.

Middle Ages Romance

The first known depiction of the heart as a romantic symbol is in a 13th century manuscript entitled “Roman de la Poire” or Romance of the Pear, by Thibaut. In the image a kneeling lover offers his heart to a damsel, although the heart resembles more of a cone shape. The heart was probably depicted this way because human dissection was very rare during the middle ages, and artists were basing their drawings on writings from the ancient world.

In the early 14th century, the heart symbol began to be depicted with a “scalloped” shape, or dent in its base. And then in the latter part of the century it was then flipped so its point was facing downward.

In the 15th century, the modern heart shape became well known across Europe as it was printed on widely distributed French playing cards.

The Heart Shape in Jewellery

As the heart symbol gained popularity it started to be seen in European jewellery. It first appeared in heart shaped brooches used to hold clothing together, and which were inscribed with sayings of love.

A heart shaped diamond was first mentioned in a letter from the Duke of Milan in 1463, and then in 1562 Mary Queen of Scots sent a heart shaped diamond to Queen Elizabeth I.

In 17th century England, rock crystal hearts were worn to memorialize King Charles I who had been executed. These were pendants or rings made of clear faceted rock crystal which often encased a token, hair or initials under the crystal. Although these type of pieces were initially created as memorial jewellery, they later became known more as love tokens or wedding gifts.

During this same period the heart shaped brooch was extremely popular. It was often referred to as a ‘Luckenbooth’ in Scotland, or witches’ brooch in the rest of Europe. The depicted heart was usually asymmetrical and twisted up at the bottom to one side. They were worn as a talisman against evil spirits, and were often worn by pregnant women or pinned onto babies’ blankets. Overtime these witches’ brooches also changed in meaning, to show you were “be-witched with love”. The brooches were often covered in red garnets and a single heart meant you had a sweetheart, while a double heart meant you were married.

Hearts in jewellery reached their height during the reign of Queen Victoria, and the Queen herself wore a charm bracelet with hearts representing each one of her children.

The Universal Heart

Today the heart is a symbol of love. It usually represents romantic love, but can also be between family or friends. It is universally known and one of the most popular symbols in the world. It is also one of the most popular symbols in jewellery design, as jewellery is often given as a token of love. From its mysterious beginnings in plants and sexuality, to its role in religion and memorials, the heart has had many different meanings along the way. But for me, its current significance as a symbol of love, is definitely my favourite.

Valentine's Day Jewelry

The Origins of Valentine’s Day

February can be a tough month to get through. The holiday season is over, the sky is dark and the air is cold. Yet there is a magical day in February where we get to spend precious time with the one we love, and celebrate romance. Of course I am talking about Valentine’s Day, which falls on February 14th. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, USA, the UK, France, Australia and Mexico. On this day millions of people give someone they care about a token of their love. It may be a hand written valentine, or a box of chocolates, a dozen red roses or a diamond ring. It doesn’t matter what you give, all that matters is that it comes from the heart. But how did this tradition begin? Let’s take a look at Valentine’s Day through history.

The Ancient Fertility Festival

Long before the romance, February 13th to 15th was the date the Ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia honoured Lupa the she-wolf in Roman Legend who suckled the twins Romulus and Remus that grew up to found Rome. It was also dedicated to Faunus, the God of Agriculture. The festival was to ensure purification and fertility in the city. It was run by the Luperci, Roman priests who would meet in a sacred cave and sacrifice goats and a dog. They would strip the hides off of the animals and cut them into strips and dip them into the blood. They then took the bloody strips through the streets and would slap both the ground and young women with them to ensure fertility. Lupercalia was a very popular festival that continued on into the 5th century AD when Pope Gelasius outlawed it. Some scholars believe this ancient fertility festival was converted into the Catholic holiday celebrating Saint Valentine, at a time when the Church was trying to suppress the ancient religion and spread Christianity. There are others who believe Lupercalia’s only connection to Valentine’s Day is the date and nothing more.

Who Was Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine was a 3rd century Roman priest who was martyred on February 14th and is associated with romantic love and valentines. But so little is truly known about him that the Roman Catholic Church removed his name from their official Calendar of Feasts in 1969. So what do we know? Well there were actually records of three different Saint Valentines who were all killed on February 14th. One was a priest in Rome, one a bishop in Terni, and one was a priest in Africa. The first two Valentines were said to be persecuted and murdered during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, which has led some scholars to believe the stories may be from a combination of them both. There are few facts about Saint Valentine’s life but his legends still live on. The most well-known legend is that the Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage, as single young men made for better soldiers for his army. Valentine defied the law and married young lovers in Christian ceremonies. For this he was sentenced to death, and became a saint of love. Another legend had Valentine imprisoned for helping Christians, and while in jail he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. Before his execution he had healed the daughter’s eyesight and left her a letter that he signed “from your Valentine”. Whether there is any truth to these stories we will never know, as it is lost to history.

Birds of a Feather

In 1382 English writer Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his poem “Parliament of Foules” for the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. One line stated “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate” which referred to the idea that birds’ mating season began in February. This appears to be the first time in history that Valentine’s day is connected to the idea of romance. On February 14th of the year 1400, the High Court of Love was established in Paris, which dealt with love contracts, marriages, betrayals and violence against women. Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote the oldest known valentine in existence in 1415 to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London. By the 1600’s Valentine’s Day’s link with romance was a popular concept and was mentioned in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Ophelia proclaimed “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s Day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.”

Modern Traditions

By the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens or handwritten notes on Valentine’s Day. In 1797 “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” was published, helping men write sentimental verses in their cards. The Persian poetry of flowers had been imported into Europe, and people believed that each flower had a specific meaning. By the Victorian times people would give a bouquet of flowers to their loved ones to send a specific message. And red roses, which had been tied to passion and love since ancient times, became the number one choice to give your valentine. In the late 1800’s mass produced printed valentines began to replace hand written ones and were usually covered in lace, ribbons, and colourful pictures. Around the same time Cadbury started producing chocolates that were sold in beautifully decorated boxes. It is believed they invented the very first heart shaped box. These boxes were marketed to be used as keepsake boxes to hold letters, locks of hair and love notes. By the 1980’s jewellery companies began promoting diamonds and jewellery as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Love Is Everywhere

These days over a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sold each year. And recent years have seen a rise in the number of people who send e-cards on February 14th. Even though the origins of this holiday are clouded in mystery, people just love to come together to celebrate LOVE! And why not! Whether it is little kids exchanging cards, young couples exchanging roses and chocolates, or a married couple giving the gift of jewellery, the most important thing about this holiday is not the actual gift, but the act of showing someone how much they are loved.

Valentine's Day Jewelry Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Diamond in Your Life

We may be biased, but diamond jewelry is a great idea.

Oh, Valentine’s Day. How can a day that’s meant to be about love end up being so stressful? Of course, it doesn’t have to be. The perfect gift could be flowers and chocolate, cooking a nice dinner, or even cleaning the house. But sometimes you need to go that extra step to really sweep her off her feet.  And I can’t think of a better way to do that than with diamond jewelry.

Now, unless you’re thinking along the lines of our final recommendation (no pressure), I definitely recommend keeping the gifted piece simple, elegant and timeless. This is always my preferred route for surprise jewelry, unless you have a clear idea of a unique style she would love. There is also no need to break the bank for a “just because I love you” Valentine’s Day gift… unless you want to of course.

Starting from the ears and working our way down.

Where else would we start? Diamond stud earrings are a versatile, classic and modern addition to any outfit. They can be worn 24/7, are comfortable and, no matter the size, they always look great. This is one of the great things about diamond stud earrings; you can create a pair for almost any budget.

Style: The classic style is a 4-prong diamond stud earring, but there are endless options, including 3-prong “martini” style studs, studs with a diamond halo around them and perhaps a pair of bezel set diamond studs. These all work well, and are worth considering if you know her style calls for it.

Metal: When it comes to the metal to be used, definitely opt for white gold or platinum, unless she wears exclusively yellow gold or has a stated preference toward it. For the most part, 14k white gold will work well here as there’s not a lot of wear and tear on these pieces. We also make diamond stud earrings in 18k white gold or platinum, if you are looking for something more.

Shape: The most common diamond shapes used for earrings are round and princess cuts, but of course any diamond shape would work beautifully.

Clarity: With diamond earrings, it is common to use a lower clarity diamond (such as I1), as the diamonds are not usually looked at too closely or for a long period of time. This also allows you to maximize the size of the diamonds and can work well if the diamonds have nice, white and well placed inclusions. My preference is to stick to the eye-clean clarity range, being SI2 or above, to make sure they really shine.

Colour: As far as colour goes, keep as close to white as possible. I+ colour is best in my opinion.

Confused? Check out our diamond education section for further explanation on any of the above terminology.

A neckline like that deserves some attention.

If she already owns a pair of diamond stud earrings, a necklace is a great option that can easily compliment her day-to-day jewelry. As with earrings, you can make a necklace for almost every budget.

The classic option is a diamond solitaire pendant. This can be made from any diamond shape but is typically round or princess cut. If she has a pair of diamond earrings she wears all the time then match them in shape (unless you know there’s something else she’s been dreaming of).

Other options for a necklace include a pendant with a halo around it, a bezel set diamond pendant, or perhaps a bezel set diamond “floating” on the chain.

If you really want to go all out this Valentine’s Day, you can always go for more than one diamond. Two, three… or how about 95? A beautiful “tennis” or “riviera” style necklace is essentially a string of diamonds and can be graduated in the sizes used (larger at the bottom and smaller as the strand goes up and around the neck) or can be a uniform size across. Tempting, isn’t it?

Our diamond quality recommendations for necklaces are very similar to those for earrings, but as you spend more on the necklace (and especially if you are going for an option with multiple diamonds) we recommend leaning toward the nicer categories. A necklace is front and centre after all.

If her ring finger is bare… and you’re ready for it.

Finally, Valentine’s Day might be the perfect time to take your relationship to the next level. She might only be expecting flowers and chocolate, but imagine her reaction when she gets a commitment from you like no other? We are always here to meet with you to discuss all the options you have for this most precious of diamond jewelry gifts.

Wishing you and your loved one a very special Valentine’s Day this year, and be sure to let us know how you are celebrating the day in the comments below!