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Memorial Jewellery: Reminders of Loved Ones

Memorial jewellery is a popular tribute to loved ones who have died, which can be designed to suit any taste and budget. This guide explains the different types of memorial jewellery that you can choose for yourself, or give is a sympathy gift to someone else who is bereaved.

What is memorial jewellery?

During the 19th century, mourning jewellery, which was usually black, was an essential accessory to indicate that a loved one had died. Nowadays, modern memorial jewellery is a personalised tribute that people choose to wear to remember their loved ones whenever they wish to do so.

Memorial jewellery can be small and discrete or large and eye-catching. As well as traditional commemorations, such as having someone's name engraved on a piece, cremation jewellery, which has their ashes embedded in it, is increasingly common.

Engraved memorial jewellery

Analogue watch with a silver roundel and black leather strap lying on a wooden slats Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash

Any piece of jewellery, from rings, necklaces, and earrings, to watches and cufflinks, can be worn in remembrance of a loved one. You can have a message engraved on a watch or ring, perhaps in your loved one's handwriting, or keep a favourite photo of them or some strands of their hair in a memorial locket. Some jewellers can also make bespoke charms in the shape of awareness ribbons and other symbols important to your loved one that can be strung on a bracelet or necklace.

Lasting Touch Memorials produce jewellery and keepsakes marked with the impression of their fingerprints. You should send off for a kit and take the prints as soon as possible after your loved one has died. Funeral directors can also do this for you.

Cremation jewellery: embedded ashes

Close-up of a ring lying on a cloth in shadow Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Several companies also design jewellery that can contain a small portion of your loved one’s ashes. The ashes can be embedded in rings, lockets, pendants, cufflinks and other pieces. You can usually find information on how to send the ashes to the jeweller on their website.

Cremation jewellery: ash diamonds

For the most personal memorial jewellery, some companies can make a unique diamond from your loved one's ashes. Carbon extracted from the ashes is heated and purified to convert it into graphite from which the diamond is produced. You can choose from a variety of different sizes, cuts, carats and colours and have the diamonds set into a necklace, ring, earring, watch or cufflinks. You can have this done at a later date by a different jeweller if you need some time to think about it.

DNA-infused memorial jewellery

Close-up of a silver necklace with a large emerald stone and diamonds embedded in the surround

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pixabay

If your loved one was not cremated you can still immortalise them by having some of their DNA infused in jewellery or a keepsake. DNA was originally preserved to record medical information that might become useful in the future, but some companies can now infuse it into jewellery to commemorate the unique identity of a person that has died.

You can find more information about the process on the websites of the companies that make the pieces, but the most important thing to know is that DNA is very fragile, so it must be done as soon as possible after the death of your loved one. Most funeral directors would be happy to help you provide a sample of the DNA to whoever you choose to make the memorial.

If you are choosing a piece of memorial jewellery the most important consideration is that it is something that you are comfortable wearing and is a positive reminder of your loved one.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one you can find advice on coping with bereavement and grief in Help & Resources.

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