It is strange that something as ordinary and practical as a padlock could become an item of jewellery and, in some cases, a symbol of love. Padlocks are a means of keeping something secure and examples of early forms of padlocks have been found from as early as the Romans. While the Vikings used recognisable padlocks, it was not until the 17th century that the padlock that we use today started to be more widely used.
The original 17th century locks have an iron square body with a hinged shackle or shank in a half curve or u shape. A key fits into the body and operates a spring loaded bolt. Later padlocks had shield shaped bodies.
Goldsmiths in the 18th century began to use small ornamental padlocks as jewellery items, turning the shield shaped body into a heart in many instances.
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).
Padlocks are associated primarily with bracelets and necklaces as clasps to join two ends together, but can be used as a fob or pendant, or as part of a charm bracelet or necklace. They can be embossed, jewelled, engraved, inset with floral patterns, or initials. They are still popular today.