Skip to content
History of Cremation Jewelry

History of Cremation Jewelry

When a loved one passes, our feelings and love for them continue this side of life. We are always looking for ways to keep their memory close, to remember them in our daily lives, and to honor them in ways that keep them alive in our hearts. Part of the grieving process is gathering friends and family to say goodbye and to support one another through the death of a loved one. Another part is selecting items that help us feel close to our loved ones. If you have recently experienced the death of someone you love – whether of the human or the furry friend variety, perhaps selecting a remembrance to keep close to you will help you on your grief journey. One of the most personal things a person can choose when a loved one dies is a cremation jewelry piece to remember them. This practice, while new to many, has its roots in many of the cultures of the recent and ancient past.

Cremation Jewelry in History

cremation jewelry

Jewelry was an important part of mourning customs for the ancients. While typically ashes are placed in urns and buried with grave goods, it was common for elaborate brooches to be placed with the dead as a treasure for the afterlife. For some cultures, wearing cremation jewelry to signify they had recently suffered a death was customary.

This was especially prevalent in Victorian times when mourning jewelry was a very common way to both express grief and create a family remembrance heirloom to pass to generations to come. Often, a small photo of a loved one would be placed in a locket with a lock of hair or attached to a pin that family members would wear during their mourning and long after. Even more popular was jewelry crafted with the hair of the loved one. These unique jewelry pieces were painstakingly created and lovingly worn or displayed by surviving family members.

A very common practice for the Victorians was postmortem photography. Often the only photograph a family would have of their loved one was a photo taken during their wake of the loved one lying peacefully in their casket. These photos often became a physical reminder and daily remembrance of the loved one’s life and death. These memento mori customs were often reminders of the person’s life and a consistent reminder that those who survived would also one day rejoin them in the Beyond.

Cremation jewelry that holds a loved one’s ashes did not become popular until the 1990s. Prior to this, cremated remains were typically only placed in an urn before being scattered, buried, or placed in a columbarium. In the early 1990s, a family who suffered the death of their beloved mother had a piece of jewelry crafted to hold her ashes, and soon after the company began offering jewelry to others for the purpose.

Types of Cremation Jewelry

tree of life cremation pendant

Since the 1990s, as more and more people choose cremation as a step to honor their loved one, cremation jewelry has become one of the most popular personal memorials following cremation. Typically chosen as individual keepsakes for family members, cremation jewelry comes in countless shapes and styles, and is crafted with high-quality materials that are made to last.

  • Pendants – Perhaps the most common type of cremation jewelry, cremation pendants or charms are available in countless shapes, sizes, metals, and styles to honor all sorts of clubs, affiliations, hobbies, and personalities. Pendants are worn on a chain or a rope and many can be personalized with initials or sentiment.
  • Rings – One of the closest and most personal of the types of cremation jewelry is the selection of a ring to hold a loved one close. These are typically sized for the individual who will wear the ring, and so many types and styles are available to honor your loved one.
  • Keychains – Though keychains are not jewelry in the typical sense, they are often used as a personal item that is kept close to its owner. Keychains can often be customized and personalized, so they make a nice remembrance for those who want a different type of memorial.
  • Fingerprint Jewelry - An emerging form of keepsake jewelry is fingerprint jewelry which creates a piece of jewelry using your loved one’s fingerprint. There are few remembrance options that are as unique as having your loved one’s fingerprint permanently etched on a piece of beautiful jewelry. This memorial creates a one-of-a-kind keepsake for a one of a kind loved one.

Why Choose Cremation Jewelry?

cremation jewelry

When a family chooses a piece of jewelry, a very small portion of their loved one’s remains can be placed within or a fingerprint embedded into the jewelry piece, creating a memorial that can be worn close to the heart.  Whatever the jewelry piece you choose to keep your loved one close, there are a multitude of options to make sure you get a personal keepsake that helps you tell your loved one’s story.

Previous article Cremation Jewelry Myths and Misconceptions
Next article Top Cremation Jewelry Trends for 2023