Premiering for the Fall Festival, Judie Delano will be showcasing her extensive 30-year collection of Mourning Jewelry at the Westmoreland County Museum. Mourning Jewelry is a deceased loved one’s hair woven into tokens, such as bracelets, watch fobs, rings and brooches, to form an accessory for a relative to wear so that they might always remember their loved one. This practice began with Queen Victoria, being in perpetual mourning from the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861. Both the type of jewels and symbols on a piece of mourning jewelry hold a symbolic meaning for both the wearer and the honoree forever linked in a final romantic gesture of love.
Ms. Delano’s collection includes mourning jewelry, post-mortem pictures, and funeral cards acquired from England, Ireland, and the United States dating from 1800 through until the 1920’s. One of the most interesting pieces that will be on display is a green, jewel encrusted frog, worn by a mother in remembrance of her son. While some people now view this practice as morbid, the intent at the time was to hold a part of a lost love always near one’s heart.