A piece of jewellery is often one of our most personal possessions; not just because of its financial value, but because of its emotional significance, especially if it was given to us by someone we love.
Wearing jewellery in memory of a loved one after they have died can help us feel closer to them, because it can be an elegant and discreet commemoration of their life that reflects their tastes and personality.
There are several different types of jewellery you can wear in memory of a loved one, from new pieces that contain their ashes, to old ones that were also worn by the person who has died.
1. Keep your loved one’s ashes in cremation jewellery
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If you decided to keep some of your loved one’s ashes, you can have a portion of them embedded in jewellery. Cremation jewellery to hold the ashes of a person that has died is becoming increasingly popular as a positive memorial for them. The ashes can be inset in pre-designed or bespoke pieces, such as lockets, pendants or rings.
For a truly unique memorial you can also have a diamond produced from your loved one’s ashes. You can specify the cut, carat and colour and have it set in any type of jewellery, such as a ring, necklace or earrings.
If your loved one has died very recently you can also buy pieces of jewellery or keepsakes that have their DNA infused in them. These pieces of memorial jewellery not only remind you of your loved one, but also actually preserve their unique identity in it.
If cremation jewellery does not appeal to you, there are several other options for personalised memorial jewellery to commemorate the life of your loved one.
2. Wear jewellery that your loved one left to you
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Your loved one might have left pieces of jewellery to you. Wearing these pieces can not only remind you of them, but also of special occasions, such as parties or weddings, when they wore the jewellery. If people recognise the pieces it might encourage them to talk about the positive memories that they have of the person who has died.
In her Will Princess Diana left her entire jewellery collection to her sons for them to give to their wives. Princess Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are frequently photographed wearing jewellery once owned by Diana.
You can have a necklace, bracelet or watch engraved with the name of your loved one, or a message from them inscribed in the style of their handwriting.
Even if you prefer to only wear the jewellery when other people are unlikely to notice it, or even not wear it at all, it can still be a beautiful private memory of them for you.
Sometimes loved ones might leave you a piece of jewellery that does not suit you, or is damaged, but whilst this can be disappointing, the jewellery can still be part of your life.
Stones can be reset and metal, such as gold wedding bands, can be melted down and remade into new pieces.
You could also sell the gold to a jeweller and use the money to buy a new piece in memory of them. You can have this jewellery engraved with their name or a message.
As long as you feel comfortable with this it is not the actual piece of jewellery that is important, but the memory of your loved one. If you would prefer to preserve the jewellery, you can simply keep a piece safe in a box to look at whenever you wish, and perhaps pass on to future generations.
3. Buy new jewellery in memory of your loved one
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If you do not have any jewellery that once belonged to your loved one, you can buy or make a new piece in memory of them.
Choosing a piece of jewellery can be a positive experience that focuses on happy memories of your loved one, especially if someone who was also close to them helps you select it.
You might decide to do this with money they have left you, but it does not have to be expensive.
A subtle pendant, earrings, watch or cufflinks can be as meaningful for you as a more striking piece, and you can have the design of it personalised to specifically commemorate your loved one.
4. Upcycle one of their possessions into jewellery
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If ashes jewellery does not appeal to you, or is too expensive, you can also create a piece of personalised memorial jewellery by upcycling a possession that once belonged to your loved one.
You can make earrings that are upcycled from sewing machine bobbins or fabric flower brooches from old clothes. There are many artisans who will upcycle other items into memorial jewellery for you, but you can also make it yourself.
Wearing memorial, or mourning, jewellery, to commemorate a loved one who has died is an old idea, and was particularly popular in the 19th century.
Victorian mourning jewellery was intended to be sombre, incorporating black enamel and stones, such as jet because the ‘privation of light’ symbolised the ‘privation of life’.
The design of modern memorial and cremation jewellery can be anything the wearer wants it to be, but, importantly, it reflects our own preferences, and connection with the person who has died.
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