Contrary to popular belief, hair jewelry was not always mourning jewelry. Sometimes these intricately woven pieces were created as love tokens from sweethearts, family members and cherished friends as a way to feel closer to the other. It also was worn merely as fashion since hair jewelry was in vogue during the Victorian era.
Gaining in popularity during the Civil War, hair work was an affordable and common at-home drawing room past time, much like knitting. Patterns and templates were widely available in newspapers, fashion magazines and periodicals. Many young women earned a living making hair jewelry at home.
For those less skilled or crafty, ready-to-wear hair work jewelry could be purchased through catalogs or from jewelry stores, or you could send hair off to a professional weaver to have a custom piece created.
We believe this expertly crafted brooch to be a fashion or sentimental piece. It was most likely purchased from a hair jewelry catalog and we have included a page from the "A. Bernhard & Co. Catalogue, 1870 Manufacturers of Diamond Work & Ornamental Hair Jewelry" catalog with a similar example.
This brooch is comprised of multiple open weave table work tubes of hair interwoven into a lovers knot with brass capped ends. In the center of the knot are three small round woven hair orbs each with a brass star centerpiece. Tucked beneath the trio are two brass leaves.
Dangling from chain just below the brooch are two woven hair teardrops each capped with brass.
Date: 1870s Materials: Human hair, brass Measurements: 2" x 2" Markings: None Condition: Good Metal has patina consistent with age. There are numerous breaks and repairs to the hair, most notably on the back, bottom and dangles. None of these are overtly noticeable when worn; only upon very close inspection.