The Secret: Lovers' Eye Jewelry

Design Idea A97X Necklace

by Susanne Kathol, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Looking for new design inspiration? You don't have to search any further than the mysterious intrigue of lovers' eye jewelry, also known as eye miniatures, to create your own one-of-a-kind, secretive style statements. Rich in history, portrait eye miniatures mounted as brooches, pendants and lockets were first worn in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time wealthy British and European lovers exchanged eye miniatures as tokens of love and in most all cases it was impossible to identify the people they depicted. This made it fashionable and fun to openly share a secret expression of love, friendship or remembrance with others.
The Secret: Lovers' Eye Jewelry Despite the debate on how this fashion trend began, almost all accounts involve the love story of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and Mrs. Fitzherbert. The story goes that famous miniaturist Richard Cosway painted the right eye of the Prince for a locket given to Mrs. Fitzherbert, sent along with one of his many pleas for her to marry him.

These petite, jewel-like paintings were done by miniaturists, portrait painters who specialized in small, detailed images. In most cases they focused on only the eye, often depicting an eyebrow and lashes. A wisp of hair, a glimpse of a sideburn or the bridge of a nose would hint at the owner's identity but never reveal it. Many times a border of clouds framed the image, further accentuating the mystery surrounding it. Eye miniatures were mostly set in jewelry including lockets, brooches, rings and watch fobs, but they were also set in other objects as well, such as trinket boxes and toothpick boxes and some were painted on porcelain objects, such as teacups.

Jewelry artists can bring this style into modern-day designs by using a painted-eye portrait or a photograph. This "private eye" jewelry offers a wide variety of meaningful style applications including:

Gold Eye Pendant Components
Silver Eye Pendant Components
  • Wedding jewelry
  • Mother's Day jewelry--miniature eye pendants of each child can be made into a charm bracelet
  • Best friend jewelry
  • Mourning/remembrance jewelry
  • Hero/inspiration jewelry
  • Secret lover/admirer jewelry
  • Kitschy jewelry featuring an anonymous eye
As seen in the featured design idea above, a lovers' eye pendant necklace can be made using a glue-in style pendant. The clear glass cabochon protects and magnifies the eye miniature.

Set your style sights on lovers' eye jewelry for a secret expression of love, friendship or remembrance.

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