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Funeral and Cremation Jewelry

By Linda Banks


For centuries, women have worn lockets to hold something private and dear, including the cremated remains of loved ones. History tells of grieving widows and the common practice of placing a lock of her deceased husband’s hair into a pendant to wear around her neck. Indian legends tell of people placing cremated remains into funeral rings and pendants.  At one time, mourning jewelry was fashioned from the deceased person’s hair and braided into plaits.  Women, as well as men, would wear the braided jewelry to hold pocket watches or use as key fobs. 

History credits Queen Victoria of England with popularizing mourning adornments and jewelry.  When her husband Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria reportedly mourned his passing for her remaining life. For forty years she wore mourning clothes and encouraged her royal court to mourn in accordance with her example. The practice of the extended mourning period and customs eventually trickled down to the masses in England and, to an extent, to the United States.

During her mourning period, Queen Victoria chose to wear specially designed black buttons on her clothing.  The buttons were made of  jet, a type of polished antique wood/coal from Yorkshire in northern England.  She had the dark buttons custom made for all of her mourning clothing.  With her endorsement, the buttons and later jewelry made of jet, became a status symbol worn by wealthy Victorian women of the upper classes as they imitated the fashion of the queen when they mourned. 

Memorial jewelry also became popular with the middle and lower classes, however, they could not afford the rare buttons or jewelry made of jet.  Instead, they wore memorial jewelry made of glass, metal or other materials during their mourning period. Lockets became popular and a tiny lock of the deceased’s hair placed inside.  Following the funeral, Victorians also began to have tiny paintings of the deceased painted on the cover of the lockets. Later, photographs of the deceased were placed inside the locket.There are several British Museums with extensive collections of funeral jewelry including jet buttons and jewelry worn for mourning.

Today, as more people choose to be cremated, families are selecting cremation jewelry as a way to share the final remains of their loved one.  A portion of the cremated remains are saved before a burial or scattering ceremony and then placed in cremation jewelry.  There is a large selection of cremation jewelry available for widows, mothers, children or anyone wishing to keep a small portion of the ashes.  Many designs for cremation necklaces are available, including traditional round and heart-shaped lockets or special designs such as urns, or flasks.  Many of the cremation jewelry designs can be personalized and engraved and can be worn as a necklace, on charm bracelets or as key fobs.  There are also cremation bracelets and key chains available.  Some people choose to display the cremation jewelry in their home, rather than wear it, and there are display cases available.

Cremation jewelry is an appropriate way for several family members to share the final remains of their loved one.


Linda Banks provided extended end-of-life care for her beloved Aunt who was like her mother. When her brother suddenly died, she was instrumental in orchestrating all of the details of his final wishes to be cremated. Linda has been an active blogger for ten years, including blogging about Willie Nelson and his family. Willie told her recently that he reads her blog every day.