We’re going to talk about one of my favorite obscure subgenres of jewelry today: acrostic jewelry! Popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras, acrostic jewelry is jewelry that holds a secret message coded in gems (!!).
What is acrostic jewelry?
In acrostic jewelry, the first letter of each gemstone in a piece spells out a word. You most commonly see acrostic jewelry spelling out classic terms of endearment, like “adore,” “regard,” “dear,” or “dearest.”
So an acrostic ring spelling out “dear” might feature a (D)iamond, (E)merald, (A)methyst, and (R)uby to spell out D-E-A-R. The ring above uses the same method to spell REGARD.
This particular acrostic ring is early Victorian and takes the form of a pansy for extra romance (pansy means “think of me”). This piece is circa 1830 and is from Nalfie’s.
The utterly romantic trend of acrostic jewels began in the Georgian era and flourished throughout the Victorian period. It is believed that acrostic jewelry was first created by Jean-Baptiste Mellerio of the House of Mellerio, who started designing jewels with gems that spelled out “j’adore.”
Napoleon Bonaparte admired Mellario’s acrostic designs and commissioned acrostic jewels for both Empress Josephine and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise.
The Georgian era acrostic pendant above features lovely gold cannetille work and gemstones that spell ‘LOVE.’ This beauty is circa 1820 and includes a compartment on the back for a lock of hair. It’s from Argentum Antiques & Collectables on 1st Dibs.
These three Georgian era lockets are from Fable & Windsor and they are all acrostic pieces with gems that spell “REGARD.”
Secret messages of love encoded in gems went perfectly with the Georgian and Victorian love of romance and symbolic meanings. These sentimental jewels would have been gifted to lovers, family members, or even treasured friends.
Let’s look at a few more examples of acrostic jewelry, shall we?
This lovely acrostic ring is from from Audrey & Wolf and dates to the Victorian era. It takes the shape of a pretty little flower with gemstones that spell out “DEAREST,” starting with the diamond in the middle.
Acrostic pieces are highly collectible and they’re getting harder and harder to find. Most of the pieces featured in this post are already sold, but not all. If you see one you love, don’t wait: snap it up!
This exquisite Georgian era acrostic locket from 1820 is from The Three Graces.
This beauty is a truly exceptional example. It is adorned with layers of grape vines and grape leaves, which The Three Graces says symbolizes fecundity, plenty, and the reaping of life’s bounty. Hidden within the vines are gems spelling out REGARD with a Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and Diamond.
The locket opens to reveal a secret compartment, perfect for keeping the hair of a loved one or other treasure.Read More