This oval locket is a typical example of Victorian mourning jewellery made with the hair of the deceased person.
The locket itself is made of jet, a form of fossilised wood found on the yorkshire coast and most associated with the town of Whitby. Jet jewellery was one of the few kinds of jewellery permitted to be worn by mourners under the strict victorian code of mourning and the demand for jet mourning jewellery ensured that the Whitby jet workshops flourished.
It was usual for victorian mourners to wear lockets and rings containing a lock of hair from the deceased person. These were often, as is the case here, decorated with pearls which signified tears. The preparation of hair for mourning jewellery was a professional occupation in the nineteenth century, though we may now find the practice macarbre.