Victorian Hair Jewelry

Hair Jewelry

Photo courtesy of History Broker

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.

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5 Responses to Victorian Hair Jewelry

  1. beadnfun says:

    Hey Charlene. This is Colleen Thomas.
    Thanks for commenting about the bracelet. I wound up finishing it as you saw in that photo. I added the button and loop closure so it was finished. I figured I would right away do another one but with some nicer beads, but when I got the book you sent me I figured I would work on one of those. But I have tried to do one, but I guess my brain cannot figure out some of the wording and illustrations. I worked on one project about four different ways, and even reading what she wanted me to do, and looking at the photos it didn’t make sense. The beads just were not going to magically do that. So any way, I put the book aside and figured I would work on something from Bead and Button magazine. It was basically a right angle weave, and then beading on the outside edge pulling tight some of the beads and adding 8’s in certain parts, then doing the other side the same way, creating this wave….you do two of these and stitch together…anyway when I got to the “ends” it didn’t look the same a the magazine photo showed. I thought I paid attention to the directions(they write fairly accurate directions), either way, the next day I worked on the other side and everything that could go wrong went wrong. That “end” was worse than the other end….I tried to do something about it, I had to take some parts apart and reworks areas, and then I was just trying to get the loop end which was all part of the stitching and wound up loosing my thread, it sort of disintigrated. I was so frustrated about it. I even picked an easy pattern.

    So I’m going to do some stringing for a while.

    I can’t believe that I am failing at simple directions now.

    Dang it.

    Thanks for letting me vent.
    Colleen Thomas

  2. Colleen, Some days the threads tangle and beadwork gets frustrating. Hang in there. Looking at what you have accomplished so far, I believe you can do it.

    Sometimes how another person describes something just does not resonate with us. I remember trying to learn to make Russian leaf beadwork from a magazine article and having a devil of a time. I finally got it but had to write instructions out for myself that worked for me in order to stand a chance of making a second earring.

  3. It does seem that everybody is into this kind of stuff lately. Don’t really understand it though, but thanks for trying to explain it. Appreciate you shedding light into this matter. Keep it up

  4. I have been making Victorian Hair Jewelry for the past 12 years…..this art takes time and patience. A passion for preserving our past is helpful as well. Good luck to all who take on the challenge….personally, I love what I do.

    • thebeaddreamer says:


      I took a look at your website and your work is beautiful. I also see a lot of time and effort you have put into preserving information about this art form.

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