Victorian lockets are more popular than ever. We got the inside scoop on collecting these timeless mementos.
QUEEN VICTORIA RECEIVED A SPECIAL GIFT AFTER HER FIRST CHILD WAS BORN in 1840: a bracelet with a locket, containing the name of her child and a snippet of the baby’s hair. After each subsequent child was born, a locket was added—she had 9 children—and the bracelet is today held in the Royal Collection Trust. Victoria often started trends, and jewelry was no exception. “Lockets came to be seen as a way to keep a loved one close,” says Suzanne Ellis Wernevi, the founder and owner of jewelry company Luna & Stella. Suzanne started her company in 2009, and while it carries contemporary jewelry with symbolism, such as birthstones, she has expanded into offering antique lockets too. “I have always loved lockets,” she says. “It’s an obsession! It’s a good thing I’m selling them.” She focuses on lockets made in Providence and East Providence, Rhode Island, as well as Attleboro, Massachusetts, between 1880 and 1940. “Most are marked, though not all. We’re looking for specific manufacturers,” she says. The lockets feature engraving, stone setting and hinges all made by hand. Why have antique lockets come into fashion? “I think in uncertain times, people are drawn to something that has survived and gone through great upheavals in society,” Suzanne says. “And in a time when people are spread out, lockets are a way to be close; it’s a point of connection. I’ve seen people put photos in a locket and wrap it around a bridal bouquet, for example, to have a presence if someone cannot attend the wedding in person. I hope I’m making it easier for people to shop for them, by pulling them together in one place, but it’s something that you can shop for all over the country.”