November 13, 2012
I describe myself as a storyteller and jewelsmith because I’m both an author and an adornment artist. I always include jewelry in my stories, and I have a lifelong fascination with the stories behind jewelry.
The most well-known piece of romantic jewelry is probably the engagement ring, which dates back to ancient times. Early rings were made of bone, iron, leather or woven hemp, and have been worn on the “ring finger” of the left hand for centuries as a kind of charm to bind the wearer’s heart. The medieval posie ring was a simple band of gold with an inscription of love. Messages included ‘Feare not mee, i’le faithful bee,’ ‘In love abide till death devide’ or ‘True love is endless.’
The diamond is a popular symbol of love and romance. The 189-carat Orlov Diamond was given to Catherine the Great of Russia by Count Grigory Orlov in the hope of winning her love. Richard Burton bought the 69-carat “Taylor-Burton Diamond” for his wife Elizabeth Taylor.
But diamond engagement rings didn’t become common until the 1930s. One hundred years earlier, in the 1830s, Queen Victoria’s engagement ring was a gold serpent with an emerald set in its head. Another popular piece of romantic jewelry from the Victorian Era is the dearest ring, where each stone begins with the letters that spell D-E-A-R-E-S-T – diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire and topaz.
If you’re of Irish ancestry like me, you’re probably familiar with the claddagh ring, a love token that might be given to friends, family or a spouse. It features two hands clasping a heart, and the heart is topped with a crown. The hands represent friendship, the heart love, and the crown loyalty. These rings have been made in Ireland since the 1700s.
In my Stellarnet Series, the alien race known as Glin don’t have rings, but they do have romantic jewelry, because even aliens need a little romance. They have something called a nagyx or soul stone. Every Glin wears their soul stone from birth to death, unless they meet their soulmate. Then they exchange stones to symbolize a bond that goes beyond marriage – and in fact, some Glin have both a spouse and a nagyx. A soul bond is one of the few things the Glin consider absolutely sacrosanct.
What’s the most romantic piece of jewelry you’ve ever received? One of my favorite pieces is an amber pendant my husband bought in the gift shop of the Art Institute of Chicago, while we were on our honeymoon. He knew I loved amber, and later when our second daughter was born, he suggested Amber for her name.
Another piece I love is an art nouveau-style pendant that he gave me before our engagement. On one of our first dates, we attended an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at an art museum. He saw how much I loved art nouveau and later bought me the pendant. To me, this is a perfect example of romance. It doesn’t have to be roses, chocolate or diamonds. Romance is paying attention to what matters most to the one you love.
J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012). Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.
Author website: www.JLHilton.com
Stellarnet website: www.StellarnetSeries.com
Publisher website: www.CarinaPress.com
Buy link: http://www.StellarnetSeries.com/shop/