While cremation jewelry is coming back into popularity in the U.S. today, the actual history of necklaces, pendants, and other jewelry that contain a small portion of a loved one’s ashes dates back to the time of Christ, when people would carry hair, nail clippings, or even drops of blood or tears within a glass pendant in order to remember their dead. In times when cremation was rare, people instead often kept locks of hair in their remembrance jewelry, and some of these pieces remain today, as they have passed down from generation to generation. Today, cremation jewelry is more popular as cremation becomes more common as a means of taking care of earthly remains.
It might seem strange to some to carry a bit of one’s ashes in a piece of jewelry, but there are several reasons for people to do so. For some, it helps keep the deceased person close, especially if they died suddenly or were especially bonded with the person left behind. Others feel that it wards off bad luck or ill spirits at bay, and for some people, it is simply a token of respect and remembrance that can be passed on from generation to generation so the memory of the person survives long after he or she has died.
In Victorian times, it was much more common for these kinds of pendants to exist because child mortality rates were so high during this time. Fevers and diseases such as cholera and smallpox were rampant, so they had a much better understanding and acceptance of death than most of us do today. Memorial rings, pins, and pendants were very common, but as modern medicine advanced and more and more children survived, this kind of jewelry became less common. Today, it is coming back into fashion as people move away from the taboo of death and want a permanent and personal way to remember those who have passed away.