Valentines Day is always special for those in love but has it always been a special day? What we see today is a global celebration of romance but how did it all start? And what are the traditional motifs that depict love their journey till date?
In my latest story, written for the Feb-March issue of Solitaire Magazines, I answer all these questions as I trace back the history of Valentines and jewellery trends that depict love in the most profound way!
Through the years, jewellers have celebrated Valentine’s Day in the most iconic of ways!
There were at least three St. valentines who were martyred for love, and in whose remembrance Valentine’s Day is observed. The most famous was a Roman priest, Valentine, who was said to be tortured and imprisoned for performing marriage ceremonies against the Emperor’s command. Valentine wrote his last letter to a girl, in which he signed at the end as “Your Valentine”. This letter was believed to be the first ever Valentine’s greeting.
From a humble love note, Valentine’s Day has snowballed into a global celebration of romance — or a huge marketing gimmick — depending on how you look at it, which helps brands launch love-inspired collections and boost sales. Jewellery, being one of the most charming gifts for any woman, makes Valentine’s Day highly beneficial for our industry.
Within jewellery itself, trends representing Valentine have changed over the decades. The most enduring image of Valentine’s Day is the heart that overtime got replaced with elaborate bows and ornate jewellery during the renaissance and art nouveau periods. Other popular motifs include bows, lock-key, cupids, birds, and flowers, especially roses. With innovation at its peak in our industry, designers are exploring more avenues and motifs on how to look at Valentine’s Day with a fresh approach.
CHOPARD’S ICONIC HEART
Heart, the universal symbol of love, still reigns as the most popular motif with jewellers, having found new ways to look it. Hearts have gone through many transitions over the decades: puffed, winged, asymmetrical, paired with a cupid and its arrow, surrounded with ivy and fig leaves, among others.
Chopard’s Happy Hearts collection, first launched in 2015, gives a fresh twist to the celebration by adding a fun element to the humble heart with moving diamonds whirling between two sapphire crystals, which is based on the principle of Chopard’s signature Happy Diamonds. Through the years, Chopard has constantly reinvented the heart icon, and successfully so.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS’ LOVE IN PAIRS
The L’Arche de Noé collection, launched in 2016, by Van Cleef and Arpels was a tribute to Noah’s Ark where bright and sparkling pairs of various animals depict the whole animal kingdom. The unique collection has beautiful imagery of animals in pair either kissing or cuddling together. The penguin is inseparable from her partner, while the Morpho butterfly flutters in the air beside its companion.
Depicting love in the most unique of ways, this collection only comprises brooch pins. While some animals are a set of two brooches, others have both the partners in the same clip. One of the most poetic approaches to love by far, Van Cleef & Arpels has successfully spread its romantic magic with this one.
CARTIER’S LOCK & KEY
Another popular symbol of love is the lock and key, where both partners wear a pendant set each, one with a heart-shaped lock, and the other with a key. Logic being one holds the key to his partner’s heart. However cliché it may be, one can find its multiple versions in jewellery over decades.
Cartier has made it’s own unique Love bracelet with a styled L⊖Ve — designed in 1969 by Aldo Cipullo — with the horizontal line inside the letter “O” signifying the bracelet’s locking mechanism. The unique screwdriver, required to open the bracelet, is also available in the form of a necklace, allowing the bracelet to be ‘locked’ onto one person, while the ‘key’ is kept around the neck of another as a symbol for their commitment to their relationship. Initially, designed in 1969, the Love Bracelet is still in production and is one of their most successful collections ever.
BOUCHERON’S LOVE BIRDS
Birds have always been a symbol of purity, especially swans and doves. While pigeons were known to carry love letters in the Mughal era, parrots were said to sing love songs. Their beautiful body structure and graceful wings make them a favourite icon for Valentine’s Day.
Maison Boucheron’s love for the furry creatures is a universal fact, and the house is known to have made more animal and bird jewellery than most jewellers. Their representation of love also comes in the form of two birds dangling in a circular pendant or a pair of bird earrings with one bird in each ear.
ALESSIO BOSCHI’S CUPIDS & ROMEOS
Known for his elaborate and realistic Roman-inspired designs, Alessio takes motifs very literal to the theme, such as cupids and the fabled Romeo & Juliet. Cupid, known as the God of desire, love, attraction, and affection, is often portrayed with angel-like wings, drawing his bow to inspire romantic love.
As an ode to the fountains of Rome, Boschi’s Fontana del Nettuno collection brought back various memories from the grandeur of old Rome, one of which was the Cupid ring with an aquamarine fountain in the centre. Meanwhile, his Romeo and Juliet earrings depict the famous love story, with Juliet in the balcony and Romeo on one knee bearing a rose.