It’s a common desire for people to want to leave a part of themselves to their loved ones when they pass, but during the Victorian era, the sentiment was put to practice in a literal sense, seen in the form of Hairwork or Hair jewelry.
It is just as it sounds; jewelry including brooches, cords and the background setting of cameos, created completely out of hair. Relatives would be left with something tangible from those who died as well as have a token made of a durable material, since hair doesn’t tend to decay very quickly over time.
Through these pieces, the surprising versatility of hair is apparent. There is nothing scraggly or split ended about the creations (often crafted by hair artists and wig makers who found making this jewelry to be a new profession after powdered wigs went out of fashion), but rather, shiny flaxen strands manipulated to look almost like a gold surface and brunette locks braided so tightly, it’s hard to tell it apart from a traditional rope, albeit just a few shades darker and richer of a brown.
And like mourning jewelry, hair work has a similar chill factor, since it was often used to commemorate the dead. But, despite the non-traditional material, the majority of the jewelry created from human tresses is ornate, textural and hard to tell that the main component was once sitting a top someone’s head.