The Secret Messages of Floral Engravings

Throughout history, we humans have valued our secrets.  Especially those of the romantic variety.  Shakespeare made his living off tales of secret love.  The story of J. Edwin’s ardent love letters to a woman named, “Annie,” that were hidden in a brick wall in 19th century Raleigh and only recently discovered.

This yellow & white gold wedding band from Estate Jewelry Mama, size 5.5, shows the arrow-like look of acanthus leaves, $340.

So it’s only fitting that the tradition was continued and even expounded upon into the Edwardian and Victorian eras.  There have been many articles written about REGARD rings as one form of secret messages between lovers and confidantes.  (Click here to read more about REGARD jewelry.)  But what were some other ways secret messages and meanings were relayed between lovers, husbands or family members?  

Although a bit worn, this antique platinum band from Victoria Sterling, size 8.75,  shows the delicate detailing of Ivy Leaves, $480.

Of course, one of the most obvious is through engravings along the inside of rings, lockets, etc.  (To read more about of my personal attachment towards sentimentally engraved wedding bands, click here.)  Another one of my personal favorites is through the engravings along the outside of wedding and engagement bands.  Many of these were floral or plant-based in nature.

From Magpie Vintage Jewelry, you can see the acorns in this 10k rose gold band, size 6.5, $265.

Much like today, in the late 1800s to early 1900s, every flower had a specific meaning.  Here, in conjunction with the masterful Kate Cragon of Heart of Solid Gold, we've outlined a few of the most commonly seen on antique wedding bands:

  • Ivy Leaves – everlasting love. Also used alongside the phrase; I will cling to thee. Ivy is a climbing plant/vine, known for its strength.
  • Acorn / Oak Leaves – Strength 
  • Orange Blossom – Purity, chastity and innocence.
  • Wheat – Prosperity and fertility.
  • Acanthus Leaf (Resembles Tiny Arrows) – Loyalty, truth and faithful devotion.
  • Dogwood Blossom – Constancy and endurance (perfect for a wedding ring!).
  • Forget-Me-Knot – Always remember me.
  • Fern – Fascination or when in mourning it can mean sincerity.
  • Evergreen – Fidelity or wedding love, an everlasting love.
  • Apple Blossoms – Apples symbolize peace and their blossoms are symbolic of beauty.
  • Bamboo – Flexibility, endurance, suppleness and youthful vitality.  Can also represent luck.
  • Chrysanthemum – Love
  • Pansies – Thinking of you.
  • Rose – Love, hope and joy.

This antique white gold band from Brockton Gems is a beautiful example of the Forget-Me-Not pattern, size 5, $365.

There are also many other types of engravings seen on antique bands which have special meanings.  Just like their floral counterparts, many of these are based in nature.  Other examples include:

  • Clasped Hands – Often known as a fede ring, shows the clasped hands of two lovers.  Sometimes they clasp a heart between them to also symbolize romance. 
  • Hearts – Love, romance, a traditional symbol of love.
  • Ouroboros (Seen as a serpent “eating” its own tail) – Eternity

From my personal collection, this engraved heart band from Addy's Vintage goes perfectly with my heart-shaped solitaire.

So perhaps now, when you are searching for the ideal wedding band to go with your vintage engagement ring or as an anniversary gift to the love your life; you'll seek out the one with the engraving that most accurately represents your affection.  I know the love

A modern interpretation, this ouroboros wedding band from Saara Reidsema in 14k gold is stunning in its simplicity & meaning, $260.

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