The Coded Language of Acrostic Jewelry

During the Georgian and Victorian eras, the use of coded messages fo love were quite popular. The language of fans, flowers, and even stamps were used to get across particular messages to lovers. We have to assume the main reasons for the clandestine nature of these conveyances was that the couple were either as-yet unmarried (and living under strict guidelines for morality) or the opposite- that they were having affairs which required secrecy to maintain.

In the case of where the stamps were placed on letters or postcards the mystery could remain intact. However, there was also a coded language of gemstones during the 1700s and 1800s that lovers used. We have to think that if anyone is buying you any kind of jewelry at all, the message would be quite clear. However, in the old days there were hidden meanings behind these jewelry items, referred to today as “acrostic”.

Some of the most popular acrostic jewelry pieces were rings, with colorful semi-precious and precious gemstones arranged in an order. The first letter of each gemstone name would be used as the basis for the code. For example, to spell out the word “love” the stones, Lapis lazuli, Opal, Verdelite, and Emerald, would be used- arranged in the correct order.

Words like “beloved”, “dearest”, and “dear” were often used, with longer words denoting more money spent on the item. Rings, with their linear shape, were an obvious choice for these messages, although lockets and necklaces were also common.

These were probably not-so-secret, but it gave the gift giver an excuse to pamper and spoil his beloved with a special code that was shared between the two of them. This kind of thing was an extremely romantic way to show how much one cared, during a time when anything romantic was embraced.

Acrostic jewelry has gone in an out of fashion ever since it was invented in France in the 1700s. There was a fad for it in the 1920s, and another in the 1990s and today items like these are once again making a comeback. In each era the trend was reinterpreted to reflect the times, with Art Deco and pronged settings of the 1990s being two examples.

How special would it be to receive an original antique piece done in this style? The arrangement of these antique pieces usually contains flowers, leaves, or some other elements of nature rendered beautifully in gold or silver in that flowery style that only antique jewelry has.

To some it might sound like a cliché, but there were many eras in which this type of jewelry meant the world to the women who got them as gifts.

One interpretation of this trend which was popular in the 1940s-1970s with naval men stationed overseas was to send their sweethearts and loved ones acrostic signal flag jewelry, like the bracelet below which spelled out “dearest”. It just goes to show that every generation has had their own spin on this now-timeless trend.

acrostic signal flag jewelry

Today, the value of antique and vintage acrostic jewelry is based not only on the style, but mainly on the materials. As with other jewelry sales gold items sell for the highest amount, while silver and steel go for quite a bit less.

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