A Victorian Valentines - Meaningful Motifs.

A Victorian Valentines - Meaningful Motifs.

t’s no secret that the Victorians were extremely fond of motifs, often attributing meaning and symbolism to their jewellery. Their passion to do so has given our generations a wonderful world to explore. In this blog post we are going to discover some of those meaningful motifs that are associated with love, affection and all things romantic.


Buckle Jewellery

Giving buckle-themed jewellery originated in the Victorian period, where it represented a close relationship between the giver and the receiver. The buckle itself represented a metaphorical connection between the two people. Since this time, buckles have been a popular feature on jewellery of all kinds. We see the buckle symbol in a variety of forms – from rings to bangles and even in mourning jewellery. By its very form, the buckled belt suggests the never-ending circle of eternity. For the Victorians, it embodied a sentiment of enduring love and loyalty that transcended the grave.


Bows & Knots 

Bows have been a significant jewellery motif since as early as Roman times. It is believed that the practice of tying a string around the finger to remember something or someone is where the popular bow or knot symbol arose. The lover’s knot however is a complex design of woven form that symbolizes love, friendship and affection. It is a variation of the bow knot which was adapted from sailing knots, and nowadays, a lover’s knot has been replaced by something more permanent; a wedding ring. The two beautiful brooches depicted here are both products of the Victorian era. The larger yellow gold brooch set with cabochon garnets dates to circa 1850, where as the diamond set brooch with blue enamelling was produced later in the era when fashions were changing in favour of delicate, more effeminate stylings.

Seed Pearls

Seed pearls reached the height of their popularity in the Victorian Era. The Victorians, who loved using jewellery as symbolic sentiments, adored seed pearls due to their association with purity, chastity and delicacy. It was for this reason that during this era, pearl jewellery became fashionable for brides, a tradition that continues to this day. Seed pearls are one of those gems that can be found in wide array of antique jewellery. They were affordable gems that were plentiful and easily applicable to the many styles jewellery styles that the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras had to offer. Find a beautiful selection of seed pearl jewellery right here on our online store, or discover an even larger range within our shop.



It was only in the 15th century that the heart came to be as we know it now, however as with a lot of jewellery trends, there was a huge rise in popularity during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Monarchs such as Queen Victoria herself showed a particular fondness for the symbol and owned many of her own heart-shaped jewels, as seen with the enamelled bracelet below. Being an era imbued with sentimentality, hearts were one of the favourite motifs of the time yet, so much so that iconic emblem has remained one of the most prevalent and commonly associated symbols with love and romance to this very day.

Crescent Moons

Crescent moons celebrate the feminine moon goddess and therefore are associated with female empowerment. They were also known to symbolize change corresponding with the phases of the moon. Often gifted early on in a new relationship, they showed desire for the relationship to develop into marriage, like a crescent moon eventually turning full.


Victorian bird jewellery often depicted as swallows or doves. Admirably, swallows mate for life and are said to always return to their nest. They are associated with loyalty, love, and peace. Doves on the other hand are known to be a symbol of faith, good luck and are associated with the Ancient Greek goddess of love – Aphrodite, and therefore have a strong connotation with all things romantic.


Flowers have forever been a beautiful token used to express love, affection, and friendship. Forget-me-nots, ivy and pansies were gifted to remind couples in relationships about one-another, whereas roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, and orange blossoms were variations of symbols of love. The flower motif can be seen across a wide array of antique jewellery; from the intricate engraving on a silver bangle to the carved shoulders on a gold ring, gems such as diamonds and pearls are even set in specific patterns to resemble the petals of a flower..


To conclude; Many of these heartfelt meanings originated earlier than the 18th and 19th centuries, yet it was Victorian people that adapted and populated them. This meant that these motifs were still so poignant in later years such as the Edwardian era and even now in the 21st century. We are blessed to be able to share some of these treasures with you, please find them linked in the collection below or visit us in-store to discover more.

Browse Our Meaningful Motifs Collection


Sources:GIA.edu ACsilver victoriantradingco