Acrostic Jewellery, The Language of Love

There's something so romantic about secret messages and the lovers' art of speaking without words. The Victorians in particular loved attaching hidden meanings to everyday objects, such as flowers and jewellery - and a 'love letter' that can be read with a glance or kept close when the lover is away was held in high "REGARD". Acrostic jewellery is the art of spelling out a message to your loved one in the language of jewels.

Image: Antique acrostic ring spelling DEAREST

It was way back in the 18th Century when Parisian jeweller, Jean-Baptiste Mellerio, designed the first piece of acrostic jewellery. Jean-Baptiste Mellerio was jeweller to the French Queen Marie Antoinette, and later produced acrostic jewellery for Napoleon to give to his Josephine. So what exactly is acrostic jewellery? Imagine a love token in the form of jewellery; a bracelet or ring with a hidden symbolic meaning. Of course a message could be engraved, but it's so much more significant to have a love note written in a secret code - the language 'd'amour'. Acrostic jewellery takes the first letter of the names of colourful precious and semi-precious gems to spell out terms of endearment, for example to spell out DEAREST a bracelet might be set with a Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Topaz. Other popular examples are... REGARD: Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond. JE T'ADORE: Jet, Emerald, Topaz, Aquamarine, Diamond, Opal, Ruby, Emerald LOVE: Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Vermeil, Emerald

FOREVER: Fire Opal, Onyx, Ruby, Emerald, Vermeil, Emerald, Ruby

ESTEEM: Emerald, Sapphire, Turquoise, Emerald, Emerald, Moonstone

Image: Acrostic pendant spelling REGARD, Victoria and Albert Museum

You could even try to spell out a lover's name, but not every letter has a matching gemstone, so what do you do then? Don't worry, the jewellers have found a way around (most of) that! Many stones have different names in different countries that could be substituted or you could spell out your message using colour and cut, such as marquise cut for M, or a yellow stone for Y. Try these examples to make your own love token... A ~ Amethyst, Amber, Aquamarine, Agate, Alexandrite

B ~ Brilliant Cut, Baguette Cut, Beryl, Bloodstone, Blue John, or a black gemstone

C ~ Cabochon Cut, Carnelian, Cubic Zirconia, Citrine, Chalcedony

D ~ Diamond, Demantoid

E ~ Emerald, Emerald Cut

F ~ Fire Opal/Agate, 'Fancy' Diamond, Freshwater Pearl

G ~ Garnet, Green gems

H ~ Hematite, Heliotrope (Bloodstone)

I ~ Iolite, Iris Agate, Indigo coloured stones J ~ Jet, Jade, Jasper K ~ Keshi Pearl

L ~ Lapis Lazuli, Labradorite

M ~ Marquise Cut, Moonstone, Mystic Topaz

N ~ Nephrite (Jade)

O ~ Opal, Onyx, Olivine (Peridot), Oval Cut

P ~ Pearl, Peridot, Pink gemstones, Pear Cut, Princess Cut

Q ~ Quartz

R ~ Ruby, Red Beryl, Red gemstones

S ~ Sapphire, Sardonyx, Spinel, Saltwater Pearl, Square Cut Gems

T ~ Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite, Tiger's Eye

U ~ Uvarovite (Green Garnet)

V ~ Vermeil (Garnet)

W ~ [White gemstones]

X ~ Xyloretinite (a form of Amber - that one had us stuck for a while, and it's not well known, so stick with regular amber, or avoid using X!)

Y ~ [Yellow jewels]

Z ~ Zircon

Image: Acrostic bracelets commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate significant events. Acrostic jewellery isn't so well known nowadays, but it's a wonderfully romantic and secretive way to carry a message with you and many manufacturing jewellers will happily custom make something significant to you. You can find many examples on Google, and you can learn more about Acrostic Jewellery at the following sources:

www.thejewelleryeditor.com/jewellery/article/history-acrostic-jewellery-coloured-gemstones/

regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/alphabet-of-gems-the-language-of-stones-during-the-regency/

And don't forget to check out our alphabetical gemology guides to find more inspiration for your gemstone jewellery! Next week: "Gemology, E is for ..." Continuing our gemology guide with gemstones beginning with E.

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