Personalisation of jewellery goes beyond putting one’s initials on the piece or even writing one’s name in gold or silver as part of a necklace or bracelet. For aristocratic families, having a seal or signet ring with an engraved family’s crest was essential for sealing documents and letters. The person was represented by the crest. Usually, there would be a motto under the crest. The signet ring below is engraved with a demi lion rampant and the motto ‘sans varier’ (without change). This is the family crest for the Charlton family, a border reiver family from Northumberland, England, dating back to at least the 14th century.

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Antique ring showing crest of the Charlton family

Sentimental jewellery provides us with more examples of personalised pieces. Inscriptions on mourning rings, for instance, tell us when a particular person dies, and how old they were. Sometimes, depending on the colour of the enamel used on a ring, we can identify if a women was married or not. Hair included in the ring can tell us what colour it was.

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Inscription on back of Georgian mourning ring for person who died in 1814.

The final type of personalised jewellery that I want to talk about is ascrostic jewelry,  that is, when the first letters of the gemstones in a ring or locket become the word of the love token dedication, like ‘regard’, ‘adore’ or ‘dearest’. Acrostic jewellery became popular in 1809 through some jewelry designed by the French jewelry house, Mellerio dits Meller.

So ‘adore’ can be spelt out using amethyst, diamond, opal, ruby and emerald. It is also possible to spell out a person’s name in gemstones. ‘Marie’, for example, could be spelt out using morganite, aquamarine, ruby, iolite and emerald, while ‘Gail’ could be in garnet, amethyst, iolite and labradorite. My name which has nine letters could be made up into a lovely gemstone bracelet.

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Antique ‘regard’ ring