Hair as Fine as Spun Gold...

Antique Bracelet Made of Braided Hair, Pearls, Gold & Garnet, Around 1850

Gifts from hair were an integral part of the culture of friendship and love in the 18th and 19th century. The family, one's own home and friends played a major role in the life of the time, the age of romanticism was characterized by special sensitivity. In this context, pieces of jewellery made of hair were created, which were intended as particularly personal gifts to express an intimate bond. Stendhal, the great French novelist of the early 19th century, records in his correspondence with Balzac that men also wore such jewellery made of hair. In 1810, at the height of Napoleon's reign, when the intimidated Austrians had to negotiate an alliance with France in St. Cloud, he was able to observe the Austrian negotiator Prince von Metternich wearing a bracelet made of hair from Caroline Murat, Napoleon's sister. This was a subtle way of expressing his desire for the alliance of the two countries, which a little later sealed Napoleon's marriage to Marie-Louise of Habsburg, the eldest daughter of the Austrian Emperor Francis I. As an irony of history, the disappointed Caroline Murat allied herself with Austria against her brother a little later - the ribbon of hair on Metternich's arm thus connected the two far more and for longer than they probably first suspected. Cf. Stendhal: Die Kartause von Parma, Munich 2007, commentary, p. 802. The bracelet presented here is a particularly precious example of this tradition. The large gold clasp in the typical voluminous shapes of the years around 1850 is set with garnets and genuine pearls. While the colour and significance of these pearls and stones already indicate the theme of love (pearls were regarded as attributes of Venus, the goddess of love), the weave of the hair here leaves no room for doubt: The brown hair is brought in a series of endless intertwined knots, thus illustrating the indissolubility and infinity of love. Unfortunately, we do not know who gave the bracelet as a gift and who wore it. The hair did not necessarily have to come from the giver himself: Jewelry like this was also offered for sale already braided: The hair was understood as a symbolic material.

In her publication on Biedermeier jewellery, Munich 1983, on p. 208, Brigitte Marquardt illustrates some pieces of jewellery of the commemorative culture of the 19th century, some of which are made of human hair, and explains their meaning: The processing of hair into pieces of jewellery is based on the meaning of hair as a part of the whole human being, which through its durability is, as it were, immortal. In popular belief, hair is the seat of life force. Jewels of this kind were often gifts from marrying daughters to their mothers, so in the truest sense of the word, a part of the child leaving home could remain with the loving mother and be an everlasting memory, even if the daughter had now set up her own household.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.