Jewellery that Speaks the Language of Flowers
October 2, 2015
A flower is one of nature’s most delicate delights, so it’s natural that jewellery designers have long found inspiration in them, seeking to capture their fleeting beauty in jewellery.
Flowers are also rich in symbolism. Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Charlotte Brönte used floral symbolism in their works. Madame Charlotte de la Tour formalised their meanings in her 1852 book, The Language of Flowers.
Jewellery and floriography often cross paths. We share with you some breathtaking examples.
A fragrant flower that comes in blue, lavender, purple, pink and white, in Shin Buddhism wisteria symbolises modesty and contemplation. Because it is a twinning vine, it represented devotion and attachment in Victorian England.
This antique brooch (circa 1850) depicts an artful arrangement: it is made of a golden sprig of wisteria and enamelled leaves and petals of turquoise. The cluster of flowers and the centre stem are set with old mine cut diamonds and a pearl pendant.
Named for its rich, vibrant purple hue, violets mean modesty; white violets mean innocence. In The Language of Flowers: A History, Beverly Seaton writes that violets symbolised the Virgin Mary. Curiously, Napoleon used the violet as his emblem and Narcissus (who fell in love with his own reflection) turned into one.
This bouquet of violets has amethyst flowers with diamond stamens set in platinum, so both meanings of the flower are expressed. The brooch features gold leaves set with demantoid garnets and channel-set baguette diamond stems.
During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), British and American people gave friends “talking bouquets” or tussie mussies (nosegays and small bouquets of herbs and flowers). The various arrangements had different meanings.
The carved rubies, sapphires and emerald “flowers”, and diamond leaves in this piece make a colourful bouquet. The piece evokes flower baskets given during at Christmas.
Cypripedioideae, or lady slipper orchids, represent “capricious behaviour". Cattleya orchids symbolise “mature charms". Cymbidium orchids represent virtue and integrity. Dendrobium orchids speak of refinement and beauty. Victorians thought the orchid to be an exotic beauty, and wore them in their hair or placed them in vases.
Paula Crevoshay’s “Midnight Seduction” lady slipper orchid brooch is vibrant with 195 purple sapphires, 148 blue zircons, blue sapphires, black diamonds, coral and an abalone pearl.
White lilies represent chastity and virtue, and have been associated with the Virgin Mary. They are also said to symbolise perfection, majesty and the ideal woman. “Black” lilies (they’re really dark blue and maroon) are given to one’s first love. Yellow lilies represent gaiety. The colour red in lilies denotes desire or passion. King Charles IX of France gave lilies to the women of the court on May Day – a tradition that still continues.
This red lily brooch is exotic and elegant.
Say “think of me” with a blossoming garland of pansies. The name pansy comes from the French penser, meaning to “to think”. Give pansies as a gesture of friendship and platonic love.
These purple, pink and white earrings feature a petal design inspired by pansies. Their open blooms herald nature’s reawakening in the spring.