by Amanda

Vintage motifs: hand jewellery

The elegance of the human hand has captivated the imagination of artists since antiquity. Hand paintings can be found in rock art all over the world, and the image of the clasped hand is very common in decorative ornaments - it has become the universal symbol for love, friendship and faith.

Hand themes in jewellery design are often associated with the Victorian era, but can also be found in a wide range of vintage pieces. The Fede ring, which features two clasped hands, dates back to Roman times. The design was also commonly used for engagement rings in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. The traditional Irish claddagh ring is of similar style, and is still worn today to indicate loyalty and friendship.

The Victorians appreciated a good dose of symbolism, and the lady's hand motif served as a versatile icon in their jewellery. Hand pins carved from different materials including vulcanite, mother-of-pearl and ivory were in vogue during this time, and symbolised a myriad of things - such as love, affection, family, friendship and solidarity. It was not the hand itself, but rather what was held in the hand, that conveyed the message. A hand clutching a fan, for example, represented flirtation, while a hand holding a wreath signified hope and eternal life.

There are also many later examples of hand-themed jewellery, the most iconic being ''Coro's'' friendship series. Patented in the 1940's, this range of brooches was intricately detailed, characterised by red painted fingernails, and embellished with rhinestones to indicate rings and cuffs.

The hand continues to be a source of inspiration in jewellery design today. You may even find cheap hand charms and rings at your local craft shop or chain store. Needless to say, these mass produced modern trinkets lack the superior craftsmanship, history and charisma of vintage or antique jewellery.

View products in the following categories:

Victorian | Rings

View blogs with the following tags:

Antique | Ring | Victorian | Vintage
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