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In past centuries, sentimental and mourning jewelry often included real hair. It was a particularly popular craft during the Victorian era.  Even Queen Victoria herself was in on it.

It might seem morbid to us but it was a major way to have a keepsake of a person before photography became more common place.

Check out my past post Jewelry Made with Real Hair - Past and Present which explains more and includes astonishing art jewelry achieved with hair.

One modern hair jewelry artisan who is also reviving this old craft is Brooklyn based Larissa De Souza Varges of De Souza Jewelry on Etsy.  She explains how she got into it : " Victorian hair jewelry caught my eye a few years ago and since then, I can't stop collecting and being fascinated by these delicate pieces and how sentimental they are. The work is amazing!"

These are for sale but Larissa also does custom work. To find out more about her and her other work, check out her website.

It isn't surprising why hair makes such enduring mementos - it outlasts us by a huge margin! Many Egyptian mummies which date back thousands of years still have their hair (do not click through if you are squeamish).

Hair can tell a great deal about the person. The observed condition of the hair can betray nutritional deficiencies. The elemental composition of hair can also determine if the person was exposed to toxic substances or provide an aid to disease diagnosis. Hair also provides a useful time line of these occurrences.

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the TuileriesImage via Wikipedia
Did you know keepsakes of Napoleon Bonaparte's hair have been tested?  The results show a high level of arsenic poisoning most likely acquired from exposure to all kinds products like hair ointment or wall paper color pigments which contained arsenic compounds. But that doesn't stop the conspiracy theorists who still think he was deliberately poisoned to death while in exile.


Other Hair Inspirations

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips and Earring Design Ideas

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  1. Very interesting article. It is quite an art. Not quite my thing, but a I can appreciate the work.
    thanks, Carol

  2. Interesting...unusual, but then everyone has different tastes!


  3. interestingly....weird..... not bling enough for me :D

  4. The dark blonde or sandy brown hair ropes hanging below the chain necklace (in last photo) could pass for silk necklace cords.
    I think I could well understand why someone would wish to keep a lock of their loved one's hair after they passed away, sort of like keeping that special concert ticket. However I don't think I'd wish to wear a total stranger's locks around my neck, wrist or earlobes.

  5. I can understand that, Anna. That's why Larissa offers a custom service.


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