Alison of Teenangster always discovers the most amazing jewellery, which she often shares on her blog, pinterest and twitter. so i was excited when she sent me this post about Lover’s Eyes. jewellery with a story, my favourite.
So, I’m a bit of an antique jewelry fiend. Ever since I got engaged, it’s only gotten worse; I now spend way too much time hovering on eBay and Etsy vintage, seeking out gray seed pearls, an engraved band from the 1930s, European-cut diamonds, mourning jewelry. You name it, I’m watching it.
And then I found out about lover’s eyes: hand-painted portraits on ivory which were popular in England between the 1780s and 1830s. What a game changer! My love of eyes, art and jewelry, united in one convenient, covetable form.
So, the history of this jewelry style is as juicy as the paintings are gorgeous. Since romantic love didn’t typically exist within the confines of a marriage at this point in history, affairs were pretty common. So how would you show your loyalty to your lover? By wearing a sentimental portrait of an unidentifiable part of their person, of course.
According to the Smithsonian, “One of the earliest known eye miniatures was painted in 1786 by the English artist Richard Cosway for the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. The miniature showed the eye of Mrs. Fitzherbert, the prince’s mistress.” And since just the eye of one’s lover was visible, the piece could be worn while your inamorata’s identify remained secret. It’s also been theorized that the “single eye also symbolized the watchful gaze of a jealous partner, who feared that his or her lover might stray.” Scandalous, juicy, royal and pretty: my kind of history.