Antique Lockets are a collectible item of jewellery.
Antique lockets are extremely popular collectors’ items, particularly those that have retained their original keepsakes, such as a photograph or lock of hair. These mementos symbolise a unique opportunity to own an ornamental piece of history.
History & Description
A locket is usually a pendant which, when opened, can contain photographs or other small items. These objects are typically precious or sentimentally valuable to the person who wears the locket. From the eighteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, lockets were commonly given to loved ones on special occasions, such as weddings, Christenings and Valentine’s Day.
Lockets were produced in many shapes, such as circles, hearts and ovals and were normally worn on chains around the neck. The more expensive lockets were made from precious metals and were decorated with gemstones and diamonds.
Typically, a locket would contain two photographs, although there were some that could hold up to eight. Furthermore, other personal keepsakes were also included such as a lock of hair, a small memento or a cushion infused with perfume.
Guide for collectors
Lockets are not a particularly common form of jewellery today, which explains why there is a growing community of antique locket collectors. Moreover, lockets can also serve different purposes. For example, “regard” lockets were adorned with a row of brightly coloured gemstones that spelled “regard” and were a favourite gift from the 1830s. The “mourning” locket became popular in the Victorian Age and would often contain a small reminder of a deceased loved one. Another style of locket utilised the filigree style of metalwork and would contain a small cushion with perfume added to it.
Antique lockets can be purchased from the following websites; Antiquesavenue.co.uk, Hattonsantiques.co.uk and Antiquejewellerycompany.com. Additionally, there are a number of useful online resources for potential buyers that provide worthwhile information regarding who were the most prominent locket makers of certain periods and how to identify antique lockets, such as Collectorsweekly.com
Antique lockets occasionally feature at international auctioneers. Prices do tend to vary considerably, but generally, lockets made in the eighteenth and nineteenth century tend to sell from £200 to £600.
Notable auction sales
In January 2012, a gold-toned “mourning” locket, dating from the early 1800s, was sold on Antiquesavenue.co.uk for £40.
In November 2009, two miniatures and two lockets realised a price of $18,750 through Sotheby’s, New York. These rare and important lockets once belonged to the Russian tsars of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century and contained photographs of Emperor Alexander III, Alexandra of Denmark, Emperor Nicholas I and anonymous portraits of two women.
In March 2004 at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, an early Victorian “regard” heart-shaped locket, circa 1830, realised a price of £1,763.
A collection of Victorian lockets was sold through Bonhams, Oxford, for a realised price of £282 in May 2006.
In March 1993, an antique diamond and enamel locket with gold rose and a red enamel border bearing the legend “Jamais La Rose Sans L’Epine”, circa 1810, was sold for £1,555 through Christie’s, London.
An antique garnet and gold locket pendant, circa 1830, was sold through Christie’s, New York, in October 2003 for $2,151.