Portal pendants

There may be no better conversation-starting piece of jewelry than the locket.

Lockets are so specially secretive and inherently mysterious. What’s inside – and why?

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My favorite locket by Waxing Poetic.

These content-carrying pieces of jewelry were first employed to port perfume for ladies in the 17th century and later morphed into wearable tokens of loved ones. They also served to signify adherence to a leader or a faith and were worn by both women and men. Known most obviously to contain photos, they have held small charms, love letters – even ashes and poison.

Lockets reached their zenith of popularity in the 19th century, when they were regularly presented to mark special holidays and milestones, including funerals.

Even as styles have shifted drastically, the locket has remained a constant, appropriated by every major jewelry trend in the 20th century. You’re just as likely to see someone wearing one today as you would have been when Queen Victoria made mourning an official pastime.

victoriaShe too, loved the locket. Her husband Albert gave her this bracelet (right) that, in its final form, bore nine heart-shaped enameled lockets containing a lock of each of her children’s hair.

Today, lockets are worn not only for sentimental reasons but to demonstrate personal style. Lockets themselves often don’t resemble their forefathers. Origami Owl has popularized the “living locket,” hingeless clear discs inside which float a series of charms personally selected by the wearer or giver.

From the classic to the contemporary, lockets are the most magical of mementos.

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