Why Hearts Mean Love?

Why do hearts 

mean love

Giving someone a heart means one thing right? romance.

We all take for granted that hearts stand for love. Here in the world of Lily Gardner we are reminded of this daily as we have so many men buying heart jewellery for an anniversary or Valentine's Day or birthdays. This perfect symmetrical shape with its sensuous curves has become synonymous with love. But this hasn't always been so. In Grecian times, the blood pumping organ was merely dissected and studied, the shape only vaguely resembling the emoji outline we know today. But although the concept of passion linked with the physical heart existed, it didn’t appear as a symbolic icon until Roman times, when an image we would recognise was stamped on to a coin. 

Oddly this heart symbol was taken from the shape of a silphium seed - a type of fennel now extinct. It turns out that silphium was known for its contraceptive properties, and romantic Romans placed great value upon it. So this humble seedpod’s association with love and sex introduced the symbolism of the heart shape – and crucially a shorthand visual outline that could be simply drawn and sent as a token of love.

black lace on blue heart shaped earrings with black onyx beads | Lily Gardner
£0.00 GBP£95.00 GBP

However, things really got moving after the Middle Ages, especially in France where troubadours and minstrels used heart imagery in their love songs. Your heart became an abstract embodiment of your emotions and faithfulness – something to be given only to your beloved.And finally in Victorian times the concept came to the masses with the new, cheap postage delivered by the Penny Black. Once the sending of cards became affordable, Valentine’s Day messages adorned with hearts became hugely popular and 400,000 were sent in the first year. 

All the above became of interest to me when I was researching and designing our new Lace In Silver Heritage Jewellery Collection. Initially I had intended to move away from the traditional heart shape but, bowing to the weight of history, I thought why not?! 

But while perfecting the tricky production task of fitting sterling silver to the complex curves of a heart shape, I also wanted to do something a little different.So for those who really want a more modern piece of jewellery, I have included a longer, sharper Wild Heart shape in the collection. It could be said to resemble not only a heart but also the point of Cupid’s arrow. It's more minimal, contemporary but still feminine. (How could it not be when it includes lace?)

We first called this new heart 'vicious' to give it edge but then lost our nerve... Our male friends told us they’d be nervous putting the word vicious anywhere near their relationship, so we opted for 'wild' as something more sauvage than savage! It is a gift of love after all. But let's just say that if you like design and something different we hope you will appreciate this alternative approach to the iconic shape of love. Of course, you don't need to wait to be given these hearts on a “special occasion”. Every time a woman leaves the house, she wants to look special. Many women simply choose to wear hearts as a symbol of femininity and emotional sensitivity to world around them. It’s a classic outline, exuding friendliness and openness. If that means you want to treat yourself – you go girl. We heart hearts! 

why does heart mean love?

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