Many images have been associated with true love – cupid and arrows, doves, the eternity symbol (eternal love), lizards (wedded bliss), snakes (eternal love), lover’s knot, and flowers such as roses, crocus and chrysanthemum, all of which symbolise love.
However, a heart is the recognised symbol of love, affection, and devotion, whether it has been carved into a tree with the initials of a couple or been set in gold and diamonds.
Sometimes the heart is linked to other romantic symbolism, like the padlock. A padlock in the shape of a heart indicates both love and a symbol of lifelong commitment. Some heart padlocks are engraved, others might be gem set. They are often used as bracelet clasps but can be also pendants and charms. Some heart padlocks come with a key hole, and sometimes a tiny key (holding the key to your heart).
Some hearts might be held by hands, as is the case with claddagh rings. Claddagh rings, like the one in the photo, often have a crown on top of the heart, meaning ‘ruler of my heart’.
From the 1600s, fede gimmel rings became popular. They have two hands clasped together and open up to reveal one or two hearts. Some jewellery comprise two hearts, either set side by side (hearts bound together) or as entwined hearts (continuous everlasting love).
Heart shaped ivy leaves were used in jewellery to symbolism love as in the case of the Edwardian ring above. This lovely ring is made of one strand of tiny engraved flowers, forget-me-nots, with two strands are heart shaped leaves. The three strands of the braid then join together to form the band of the ring.