I visited Raleigh, NC not long ago and spent some time in one of the museums there. I walked through an exhibit on Victorian personal and home adornment and one museum case had a display of Victorian hair jewelry – jewelry made from human hair. My initial reaction was ewwww. I then began really studying the jewelry and was amazed by the intricacy and level of workmanship displayed in the jewelry.
In researching the topic, I learned that this type of jewelry was made as a keepsake to remember someone who died or was given as a token of remembrance by loved ones separated by distance. People are resourceful and in an era when photography was scarce, they used what was available and did so in a very artistic manner.
Truthfully, after I thought about it I questioned my own initial negative reaction. I’m not really so different from those women. I have the advantage of having many photos of loved ones and still I have a lock of my son’s baby hair and all of his baby teeth. They are important keepsakes.
You can learn more about Victorian hair jewelry by searching the Internet. There are exhibits in various museums around the country, and there is a Victorian Hairwork Society who along with others work to keep this history preserved and tradition alive. It is really fascinating and ultimately not about hair or jewelry, but about people.