How deeply the meaning of Love in all its forms has been and is still translated into jewellery is a fascinating story.
There are many forms of ‘Love Letters’, this exhibition investigates the notion of human expression through gifts of jewels and objects to show how Love is declared across different cultures.
Recently, Harvard University’s Houghton Library acquired one such love token dating to the late 1700s, possibly fashioned by a New Englander.
Delivered to his lady of interest in the form of a puzzle purse, it records the unrequited passions of one gentleman who signed off as “E.
These are woven into decorative geometrical designs and shapes.
Zulu necklaces and bead work found under the umbrella of Love Letters The bead work that was created in response to trade, with the advent of glass beads became a symbol of status and positioning, and most importantly a key device in self-adornment and expression.
Detailed watercolor and ink illustrations of a sun and moon, hearts sprouting flowers, and a Cupid-like figure surround the verse, penned in elegant cursive.
At the center are detailed portraits — presumably of the sender and receiver — and while the bright, multicolored inks suggest a carefree and blossoming relationship, the message has rather dark lines that indicate otherwise.
On this token, dating from sometime after 1772, the suitor has cut hearts and a star into a coin.
The circular hole at the top would have allowed the owner to thread the token and wear it around their neck.
Stylistic variations of bead work such as pattern, colour and colour sequence created a new language between lovers, also indicating a group affiliation.