You may remember that in the years following the tragic events of Sept. 11, charm jewelry had a resurgence—American women were looking to, and longing for, sentimental jewelry that recalled simpler times, preserved memories, and told rich, personal stories through symbolic and spiritual motifs. This renewed interest spawned the publication of several coffee-table books on the topic, inspired the launch of charm-focused companies (did you know that Pandora made its U.S. debut in 2003?), and revived the category’s appeal among antique jewelry collectors and dealers (and they haven’t looked back since).
Since then, charms have become de rigueur, and as our country faces similarly uncertain times, and tries to “keep calm and carry on” in a climate of unrelenting sociopolitical unrest, there will continue to be an appetite for this type of collectible jewelry. But look out for lockets—this newly burgeoning subset of the charm category is having a major moment.
Why lockets? Why now? My take: Since most are designed to house a photo, a lock of hair, or some other sentimental memento, these symbolic pieces urge us to hold on to what matters. They’re a vehicle for keeping your loved ones, your heritage, or your religion close to your heart. They’re a way to preserve your identity when so many outside forces pose a threat to it.
I also checked in with blogger (and locket lover) Becky Stone of Diamonds in the Library for her gut check: “A locket is like a tiny, secular reliquary,” she says. “I think that in uncertain times, people turn to what comforts them. That may be symbols of faith, motifs that remind them of their childhoods, or something else—it’s very individual. But I think that times of fear make people nostalgic and sentimental.
“I also think that the millennial tendency to choose jewelry with individuality, and/or a story behind it, lends itself perfectly to lockets. What’s more unique than a piece of jewelry you can personalize with pieces of your own life story?”
More stand-alone and statement-y than their tinier sister jewels (charms tend to be worn in multiples on a bracelet, or clustered with other pendants on a chain), the latest lockets blend vintage romance with modern accoutrements like a leather cord (newcomer Diane Dorsey), free-form Herkimer diamonds trapped between panes of glass (Erica Weiner), or a long, swingy gold chain glistening with moonstones (Just Jules).
Below, 11 inspiring keepsakes to get you on board.
Vintage fill locket in 12k gold detailed with a genuine opal and clear paste stones, $395; Luna & Stella
Moon locket in sterling silver with an oxidized matte finish on black Greek leather cord, $1,210; Diane Dorsey
Antique locket in 18k gold with green enamel and diamond on a 14k gold chain, $2,470; Fox & Bond
Virginia Woolf Whistle locket in satin-finish 18k gold with 1.13 cts. t.w. diamonds (whistle works and opens to reveal a tiny wolf), $25,000; Wendy Brandes
Vintage gold-fill locket on a 14k gold chain with moonstones, similar styles $700 to $800; Just Jules
Shake Locket in rose gold–plated stainless steel and glass with loose Herkimer diamonds, $225; Erica Weiner
Rectangular locket in sterling silver with rose-cut blue sapphires, $595; Monica Rich Kosann
Swivel locket in polished 14k yellow gold, price on request; Stuller
Antique gold-plated Hardwick locket detailed with blue enamel, seed pearls, and an 18k gold and diamond bale (chain sold separately), $1,900; Anabel Higgins
Locket in 9k gold with faceted rose quartz, $780; Loquet
Handmade locket in 10k gold with woodblock engraving, $2,100; Page Sargisson
(Photo at top courtesy of Fox & Bond)
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