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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

A Rose by any other name…..

This month, I wanted to focus on flowers. You know what they say: “April showers bring May flowers!” Spring is in the air, and I’m feeling like I want to get out in the garden and plant things. I’m sure I don’t have to say that flowers are common elements in jewelry, but it hasn’t always been that way. I wanted to take some time and look at specific flowers and their history in jewelry. And for my first post in this flower series, it seems only fitting to start with the rose. After all, roses are a symbol of love dating back to well…. forever.

Ancient History

Today, the rose is our most beloved flower, with over 3,000 varieties. It’s been on this Earth for over 35 million years, we even have fossils of roses! Worldwide, the rose is the flower people go to most to express their feelings, making it the most popular flower ever sold.

Well before modern times, the rose was symbolic around the world. Five thousand years ago, the Chinese and the Persians cultivated roses. In Islam, geometric gardens often featured the rose. In a popular Arabic poem, the rose’s beauty causes the nightingale to sing with longing. Way back in Greek and Roman times, the rose was linked to Aphrodite, or Venus, goddesses of love, and used in wedding ceremonies. The Romans cultivated it in gardens for perfume and medicine. Once Christianity began to take hold, the rose came to symbol Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Around the year 400, the rose became the official emblem of the Virgin Mary, and the rose appeared with her in paintings and other artwork.

England’s Roses

England’s national flower is the Tudor rose. Heard of the War of the Roses? Fought in the 1400’s, it was an English civil war where each side had a rose as their symbol – a white rose for the House of York and a red rose for the House of Lancaster. The Tudor Rose was a mix of both roses, and symbolized peace after the war.

<img class="size-full wp-image-2950 lazyload" src="" alt="The red and white Tudor rose" width="259" height="194"> The red and white Tudor rose

Why so many roses?

In the late 1700’s, there were only about 30 species of roses all around the world. But in 1903, the Empress Josephine (of France, wife of Napoleon) wanted more for her garden. After she had her botanists scour the globe, she cultivated different rose varieties. By 1829, there were 2,562! Once the French started crossing their roses with the Chinese roses, there was no stopping rose madness!

Today, there are tons of varieties and colors, with enough meanings to ensure a rose will suit whatever occasion you want to mark. The red rose signifies passion and love, which is why it’s so popular on Valentine’s Day. Yellow roses means friendship. Pink is for sweetness and affection, white for innocence and purity. I didn’t realize this, but apparently the orange rose symbolizes carnal desire. Deep colored purple roses represent grief or sadness.

Victorians Love Flowers

The earliest examples of roses in jewelry that I found came from the Victorian Era. The Victorian Era of jewelry is from 1837 to 1880, when Victoria was Queen of England. Victoria was quite the style icon and jewelry lover. She was young and pretty, and had very unexpectedly taken the throne. Whatever jewelry she wore became immediately popular with the public. This era saw the popularity of all sorts of cool jewelry – snake rings, flowers (pansies were especially popular), brooches, lockets, and intricate hair jewelry.

<img class=" wp-image-3014 lazyload" src="" alt="" width="520" height="346" srcset=" 710w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 520px) 100vw, 520px" /> Queen Victoria was an enthusiastic jewelry collector

The Victorians loved flowers, their gardens, and it only makes sense that this carried over into jewelry design. This was also an era where people believed that certain flowers meant very specific things. A popular book called Le Language des Fleurs was published in 1819, and translated into English in 1820. This was the book that told you what flowers were for faithfulness (violets), fidelity (ivy), purity (orange blossoms), innocence (daisies), happiness (Lillies) and of course love (roses).

Below are some examples of roses in Victorian jewelry. You can see the wide variety of materials and designs.

<img class=" wp-image-2964 lazyload" src="" alt="Victorian Era examples of roses in jewelry" width="414" height="414" srcset=" 800w, 150w, 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 414px) 100vw, 414px" /> Victorian Era examples of roses in jewelry

An absolutely sublime brooch from this time period is pictured below. Created by French jeweler Theodore Fester in 1855, it belonged to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. Since it is was designed for royalty, it’s quite extravagant, containing over 2,500 diamonds. After her death, the brooch was named the Tudor Rose. In 2004, it sold at Christie’s for over $700,000.

<img class=" wp-image-2929 lazyload" src="" alt="The Tudor Rose Brooch" width="266" height="279" srcset=" 512w, 286w" sizes="(max-width: 266px) 100vw, 266px" /> The Tudor Rose Brooch

The Rose goes Deco

I will be honest and tell you Art Deco jewelry is some of my absolute favorite. Usually, if it’s Art Deco, I love it! (My husband says this is because it’s the most expensive, but I’m sure that’s not true!) Art Deco took place in the 1920’s and 1930’s. And while roses were still around, they weren’t that common, and they become far less flow-y. Like all things Deco, you saw this focus on geometry. Art Deco jewelry was also very clean and clear. This usually meant lots of diamonds and platinum. Below, I have two very different examples.

The top pendant has the geometric focus of most Deco pieces, and bold color palette. It’s made from porcelain. The bottom brooch was designed by Parisian workshop of Lacloche in 1925. Like many Deco pieces, it’s diamonds, platinum, and white gold. Lovely, isn’t it?

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-3049 lazyload" src="" alt="" width="340" height="454" srcset=" 600w, 225w" sizes="(max-width: 340px) 100vw, 340px" />

Roses in the Hills

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the roses in my own jewelry backyard. You see, I’m from South Dakota. I was born and raised there. And in South Dakota, Black Hills Gold jewelry is everywhere! And if you’re a proud South Dakotan like me, you LOVE it! My first ever piece of jewelry was a Black Hills gold ring that my father gave me. Anyway, you’ll be happy to see the roses are alive and well with Black Hills gold.

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-3055 lazyload" src="" alt="" width="441" height="294" srcset=" 1200w, 300w, 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 441px) 100vw, 441px" />

What about now?

This post is just a snippet of the history of the rose and what’s out there for jewelry. Next week, we’re going to focus on another fabulous flower. I created a Pinterest board with some of my favorite flowers in jewelry. Check it out here!

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What about you? Do you have any pieces with roses? Let me know!


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