Human Hair Mourning Jewellery

Contributed by Worcestershire County Museum Hartlebury

Human Hair Mourning Jewellery

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.

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 23:04 on 11 May 2011, gossamerwebbe wrote:

    This programme was most interesting. At one point, there was a reference to the fact that hairdressers have to sweep up all cut hair and then bin it. Why can't hair be recycled and used to make fabrics? Has anyone evere tried this?

    Complain about this comment

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.