The symbolism of Love sublimated by jewellery
“There is only one happiness in life, and that is to love and to be loved.” George Sand said. No one will deny that Love is the most grandiose and universal feeling in this world. No wonder he has been glorified through all forms of Art and expression since forever. Even less surprising that jewellers, creators of beauty, honor this impulse of the heart. Whether through figurative or symbolic forms, jewellery has been inspired by various myths, beliefs and languages to speak in the name of Love. With the Ecole des Arts Joailliers as source, Luxus Plus reveals some hidden symbols in the collections of some Maisons.
Van Cleef & Arpels jewels
Jewels of feelings crystallise all forms of love and speak for the sake of passion, friendship, soft or violent emotions, secret or impossible relationships. Through games of metonymy, Art and jewellery commonly appropriate the elements that define these loves.
The most common examples are inspired by ancient gods. For example, Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, owned a chariot driven by doves. These birds often represent her in artistic creations, as the two elements attributed to her. His son, Cupid, god of amorous desire, united souls with his bow and arrows which touched hearts. These are therefore linked to him and to the feeling he gives rise to. Also with wings, they symbolize this cherub and love in many forms of art, such as jewellery. Boucheron has been able to superbly exploit these references by creating sumptuous arrows, doves, wings and diamond feathers. We remind the diamond’s relationship to Love with the idea that they are both eternal.
What makes the world go round?
The goddess of discord, at a banquet, put down a golden apple saying “for the most beautiful”. All the gods thought it was for Aphrodite (goddess of beauty and love). However Era and Athena also stood up. Zeus was asked to decide but he refused to take sides. He gave the voice to the young human Paris of Troy to pass judgment. Era said to him: “If you choose me, you will reign as one lord over the greatest kingdom of this world”. And as he was about to give her the apple Athena intervened, “If you choose me, no enemy weapon can reach you, you will achieve all victories, you will be the greatest hero and the whole world will honor and dread your name.” And while Paris was interested in the proposal of the goddess of wisdom and military strategy, Aphrodite approached and whispered: “If you give me this apple, not only you will be the greatest lover of this earth but I will offer you the love of the most beautiful woman in the world ”.
I let you guess to which goddess Paris offered the apple. Small clue for those who have forgotten their lessons on the origins of the Troy War according to Homer, the answer is in the circle of the central image.
One of the most beautiful legends is that of Psyche (meaning “soul” and “butterfly” in Greek) and Cupid or “Love falling in love”. Venus being jealous of Psyche – the most beautiful mortal – asked her son Cupid to make her fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. However, becoming infatuated with her, he took her to his kingdom and forbade her to discover her appearance. One evening, while he was sleeping beside her, she lit the room to find him and inadvertently woke him up. Feeling betrayed, he left her in the hands of Venus who mistreated her, forcing her to do some work. As a final mission, she had to steal the vase of the Beauty Elixir from the Underworld without opening it. Unfortunately, not being able to resist the temptation and inhaling her scent, she sank into a deep sleep. Cupid, still in love, came to her aid, woke her with a kiss, made her grow butterfly wings and took her to the kingdom of the gods. This little insect, symbolizing Psyche, then became the embodiment of soul and beauty. Then Van Cleef and Arpel, deeply attached to poetry, has always been able to amaze our eyes with butterflies as fabulous as they are precious.
Love, as sweet as it can be painful, is likewise represented by bees and honey. These ones describe so well the torments of love. Indeed, “honey” is an affectionate term among English speakers. But to have honey, you have to face its guardians and sometimes get bitterly stung. This concept has long been expressed through jewellery creations. Chaumet is the perfect example of this with its “Bee my Love” collection which reuses the hexagonal shape of beehive cells or with its few refined creations in bee shapes. And for butterflies, when they are “at night” and especially linked to a flame, they reveal the fatal attraction. Because, as who approaches too close to the fire can be burn, the violence of attraction can destroy hearts.
Nature is also a great source of expression. The rose, a symbol of love, is often magnified. It would be the work of the reincarnation of a dying nymph saved by the ancient gods who would have infused her with beauty, fragrance and charm. In addition, the Marguerite – whose petals are removed with a game to know the feelings of our beloved (e) – is reinterpreted in jewellry. Just like the ivy which remains always green and which therefore symbolizes loyalty. It is beautifully styled at Boucheron, the creator of the Maison having been amazed by this wild flower and having seen in its leaves a slightly abstract shape of the universal symbolic heart.
There are many representations across cultures and eras and all cannot be explained in so few words but the most wonderful one is your own. Whatever form the jewel you offer takes, this creation itself remains the precious allegory of your love.