The Red, White, Blue & You!

In honor of Independence Day, I thought it only fitting to focus on jewelry that commorates the good old red, white and blue!  And who better to represent the red, white and blue than the military!  So the focus of today's post is commemorative military and sweetheart jewelry.  

A 14kt white gold American flag shield lapel pin.

Commemorative military and sweetheart jewelry has a long and distinguished history.  Dating back to World War I and II, these keepsakes strike a deep, sentimental chord. The popularity of keepsakes grew in the United States from 1917 to 1919 as our country entered World War I and then again during World War II, 1941 to 1946.  The pins, bracelets, buttons, banners, plaques, flags, posters, necklaces and lockets gave those dealing with war on the home front a way to honor their loved ones while also showing patriotism for their country.

From Bernardo Antique & Estate Jewelry on is this wonderful circa 1910 enamel & gold Military Badge Necklace, $2,850.  Composed of seven multi-colored oval enamel badges: three red, two yellow & two white with the classic motto "honi soit qui mal hi pense," to a plain gold chain.

A unique aspect of sweetheart jewelry comes with the identifiable history immediately associated with these pieces. No matter who the pieces originally belonged to, there are some inherent factors that went into the thought, manufacture and distribution of these pieces that most anyone can appreciate.  They represent an era where practically the entire country backed the war effort. Women moved into factory positions while children were mounting ration campaigns. Working together to achieve a goal never meant more. A soldier gave this jewelry to someone special as a gesture of love and remembrance. And, many times, the piece would signify his general location, like the South Pacific, or his branch of military service.

This is a wonderful little sterling silver WWII 'Sweetheart in the Service' pin from Abbey Road Antiques & Art on, $25.  Just imagine the many American women during WWII who would have worn this to honor their husbands, brothers or boyfriends who had gone off to war - Humbling.

Sweetheart jewelry opened up new possibilities in fashion that were in line with wartime rationing. Manufacturers of jewelry were being limited in the use of metal and so they started exploring other materials like plastics like Lucite, as well as pearl, wood and even ivory.  One of the most popular pieces of sweetheart jewelry was the necklace with a locket. It held a picture of a loved one close to the heart and while many emphasized this with their heart shape, sweetheart lockets can also be found in round and oval shapes.  Some were even designed in the shape of a book. 

Rare WWII Army military eagle Sweetheart Onyx Locket Pendant & chain necklace in sterling silver from Mitsi's Marvels, $84.

Sweetheart bracelets, generally worn by a husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend of a person serving overseas, became prominent during World Wars I and II. Unfortunately, this practice faded mid-century, and there are very few necklace or bracelets in the market place recognizing men and women who served in the Korean or Vietnam conflicts.

Although I do not typically discuss gold-filled or gold plated jewelry, I feel that given the significance of the day & the context of the time period; it is perfectly acceptable to make an exception to my rule.  During the World Wars, metal was at a premium & considered crucial to the war effort therefore it's use was highly regulated & it is not uncommon to find high-quality gold-filled jewelry such as this WWII 'Sweetheart Double Heart Engraved Expansion Bracelet' from Vintage Parures on featuring the initials of the two sweethearts for whom it was a reminder, $119.

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