Brooch containing human hair, Europe, 1701-1900

1701-1900 in Europe

Brooch, containing hair and thread and pearls, arranged on a pearly background, mounted in an oval metal frame and covered with glass, fastener missing

Human hair is contained in this gold brooch. The jewellery is encased in a gold frame and on a pearly background. Such ‘hairwork’ was a craft often associated with mourning in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. This is because much jewellery contained intricately moulded locks of hair from a departed loved one. The brooch was also a memento mori. These objects remind the living of both the dead and the fragility of life. Women in Victorian Britain were permitted to wear hairwork jewellery in the ‘second stage’ of mourning. This began a year and a day after the loved one's death.


Wellcome (general)
Object Number:
glass, hair, metal, paper and thread
human remains
  • human remains
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
  • jewellery
  • pin - jewelry

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