The Hidden Secret Messages in Victorian Jewellery

The Hidden Secret Messages in Victorian Jewellery

Have you ever noticed how Victorian jewellery often features little motifs? Well there is a good reason for this. During the Victorian era, it wasn’t the done thing to shout about feelings and emotions but rather to display these subtly using secret hidden messages. Many items of antique jewellery were adorned with little motifs all with different meanings.  Gifting symbolic jewellery was a way of secretly conveying these messages. Here are a few of the motifs you may see in Victorian jewellery and their meanings:-


With its heart shaped leaves, ivy in jewellery was used to symbolise everlasting love and fidelity. Just as the ivy is evergreen and twining it symbolises a love that is eternal and deep rooted.


Birds, particularly the swallow were popular during this time representing love and loyalty. Jewellery bearing a swallow would often be given as a gift particularly when a loved one was departing on a journey. As a swallow always returns to its nest it serves as a reminder of a love shared and the promise of a safe return home.

Crescent moon and stars 

The crescent moon in jewellery was hugely popular during this time. A feminine symbol with ancient roots linked to the Greek moon goddess, thought to represent empowerment and change. As the moon cycles through lunar phases it aligns with the changing cycles of life. Stars symbolised spiritual guidance and direction and these two together made the perfect pairing for those feeling a little lost and seeking direction in life. 


You will see flowers used in a lot of Victorian jewellery with roses representing love and hope and forget me nots featuring in memorial jewellery in remembrance of a deceased loved one. 


A symbol of good luck and protection, it was believed the ends should always point upwards to keep the luck inside. To wear the other way was thought unlucky as the luck would pour out.


Prince Albert gifted Queen Victoria a gold snake engagement ring, the head was set with an emerald which was her birthstone. Jewellery featuring snakes signifies eternal love and happiness. 


The anchor was a symbol closely linked to sailors used to keep a boat steady and in place during stormy weather.  In jewellery it was thought to signify hope, steadfastness and stability and for somebody going through a difficult time a reminder to hold on as better times are ahead.

Acrostic jewellery 

Also popular during this era, rings were worn with gemstones spelling out secret messages. The gemstones were set in such a way that the first letter of each gemstone spelled out a word.  For example ADORE would be set with Amethyst, Diamond, Opal, Ruby, Emerald.

These are just a few of the symbolic motifs used in Victorian jewellery, there are so many more all with their own unique meanings. It is truly wonderful that these pieces that were once cherished and worn with love still exist for us to appreciate today.

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