Ask anyone what they think the symbol of love is and ‘the heart’ is certain to be their answer.
Today we all accept the stylised image of the bi-lobed heart shape as both the physical organ and the emotion that speaks of love and all things romantic. Give someone a beautiful heart pendant necklace and they will immediately understand the depth of affection you feel for them. Wear a heart necklace and you show your appreciation of romantic and ultimately feminine jewellery.
The heart is one of the most popular pendant necklace designs ever - and with good reason. It carries with it centuries of romantic intent. And today the desire to express our emotion for another is often embodied in this simplified heart shape. Wearing a heart emblem is a strong visual statement - which is why a heart necklace has extra significance. It’s shorthand for love, and a particularly elegant way of expressing it. Over the last few hundred years the simple heart shape ♡ has taken the world by storm. It’s so widely used: from countless emoji, to being shaped by our two hands to indicate love. It is even used as its own verb - “I heart this”. So it’s not surprising that Valentine’s Day jewellery choices more often than not take a heart-shaped form; as do keepsake love tokens for weddings, anniversaries or just times when people want to show their love.
Heart icons have been in fashion ever since the Middle Ages. But even before this, in Grecian times, it was widely accepted that emotion and love reside in the heart. Scholars have argued that the heart symbol has its roots in the work of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote of the human heart having three chambers, with a small dent in the middle.
However, one of the first appearances of the heart design we recognise today was on Roman coins. These popular outlines actually represented the shape of a silphium seed - a type of fennel now extinct. It turns out that silphium was known for its contraceptive properties and great value placed upon it. The seedpod’s association with love and sex is thought to have kickstarted the symbolism of this heart shape.
From the Middle Ages onwards the heart became heavily associated with love and romance, given impetus by its inclusion in the poetry and songs of French troubadours and minstrels. Your heart was what you pledged or gave symbolically to your lover. It was also extensively used in religious paintings depicting the Sacred Heart of Christ, which was viewed as a symbol of “God’s boundless and passionate love for mankind”.
By Victorian times the imagery of the heart and production of Valentine’s Day cards (often with fancy real lace and ribbons) were the perfect marriage. In the first year after the 1840 introduction of cheap postage with the Penny Black, over 400,000 were sent.And now, with social media the go-to method of communication, there are love symbols everywhere. They indicate approval (likes), show appreciation for a great night out (xox♡xo♡♡!!!), and also express the deepest emotion of humankind.
It was over 40 years’ ago that the graphic strap line “I♥NY” was created in the back of a taxi to promote the Big Apple. That sketch is now in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. It’s been a long journey for the heart motif but now millions are wearing their hearts not on their sleeves but proudly round their necks.
If you receive a heart necklace from an admirer, it’s redolent of romance. More than any other design, it speaks volumes of the affection, admiration and intent of the giver.
Unsurprisingly heart-based jewellery is the most popular shape to give when it comes to weddings, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. This has become such a widely accepted tradition that it can be difficult to inject much originality into a choice of gift. If you are after a slightly different take on the traditional heart, though, Lily Gardner’s long Wild Heart pendant is a creative and slightly edgy version for someone who appreciates uniqueness at an affordable price.
Necklaces and pendants with hearts have always been considered feminine and delicate, and are one of the most fashionable designs for women buying jewellery for themselves or as gifts for friends.The curvilinear shape always sends a positive message, implying that the wearer has a romantic view of the world and a feminine taste in clothing and accessories. A discreet small necklace is a really practical choice and definitely one of those ‘never take off’ jewellery items that suits any occasion.
Wear a heart and you are instantly fashionable. How can we say that? Well, wherever you look the heart has been an inspiration for countless fashion and jewellery designers who are the iconic names of today.Think of the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons, best known for its heart-shaped logo with two eyes, stitched on to ‘Play’, their casual luxury line. Or Christian Lacroix who seized upon the heart for his magnificent custom jewellery collection (and then Ab Fab, darling, seized upon him). Lacroix went global, and the trend to wear fashion-led heart necklaces never looked back. See a whole season's Valentine's inspired runway fashion to understand the pervasiveness of this little icon of love.
Indeed, hearts have provided the artistic impetus for some of the most expensive pieces of jewellery ever conceived. Even if these creations are hideously out of our price bracket, we cannot help but admire such inspirational over-the-top designs. For sheer inventiveness and impossibility, Salvador Dali’s Beating Heart takes the cake. Watch it move - spooky!
More down to earth in design, but right up there at a vertiginous price point, there is Harry Winston’s Heart of the Ocean diamond necklace. Kate Winslet wore a costume version (and not much else) in the film Titanic. But Harry's take on the item went to the Oscars around the neck of Gloria Stuart, who played the elderly Rose DeWitt Bukater Calver in the movie. It features a 15-carat blue diamond and, if you’re interested, would command a price around $20 million, making it one of the most expensive necklaces in the world. Almost as famous, but of similarly high value and beauty, is the Begum Blue Heart Necklace. Initially given to the Princess Begum Salina Aga Khan, post divorce it was finally sold in auction to Graff jewellery for the equivalent of $12.3 million. The necklace boasts a 16 carat D-colour heart-shaped diamond and a 14 carat blue heart-shaped diamond. The Begum said she didn’t need it and wanted to give it to charity. Nice.
Back in the real world, what does all this mean? All the above underlines that heart necklaces - whatever the material, whoever’s designed and worn them, and whatever the price point - are most definitely here to stay.Whether we’re buying, wearing, or simply admiring them in boutique windows, they are one of the most iconic and lovely jewellery shapes. And, in the words of the famous song, what the world needs now, surely, is Love, Love, Love.
“ This new lace heart collection was inspired by the idea of fossils in amber - immaculate, fragile beauty suspended in a crystal clear casement”. - Lily Gardner
Ever wanted to find a piece of jewellery that had something extra special about it? London jewellery designer Lily Gardner did. Aware of the huge popularity of heart necklaces, it was inevitable that she would have her own creative take on the subject. She wanted her version of the perfect heart necklace to be different. To add more emotional value and meaning.The final result needed to elevate the expected to the unexpected; to create something rare and precious.As a starting point, Lily set about making a completely new material as a focus for her pieces. She devised an ingenious method of embedding the finest black couture lace inside clear Perspex. This unique innovation combined one of the world’s most artisanal, traditional textiles with very contemporary material famed for its clarity and protective qualities.
The material we uses is no ordinary lace. It is imported from Northern France, where it is still made today in extremely limited quantities on 19th century looms. These huge machines were smuggled to the small lace-making town of Caudry in Northern France from Nottinghamshire, England, during the Luddite revolution.This was at a time when English artisan makers were threatened by the industrial age. The last thing the lace makers wanted was a machine that could take away jobs.
Both English looms and French Jacquard machines could produce lace. The French looms made the floral pattern but the English machines made net that allowed the patter room to brief and supported it. But the brilliant integration of the two mechanisms delivered a production process that could replicate the extreme delicacy of hand-made fine bobbin lace. It was bad news for the artisans, although the much higher production volumes allowed many more people to enjoy the benefits of such a fine and delicate material.Today our lace is made and finished to an exemplary standard in the same place that produced lace for Amal Clooney’s and Kate Middleton’s wedding dresses, as well as garments for Jackie Kennedy, Princess Grace of Monaco, and Marilyn Monroe.
From France the lace travels to the Lily Gardner studio in London. There it is carefully combined with Perspex and then laser cut into heart outlines. These shapes are then smoothed and polished. The final process is adding the necklace itself. This varies between an onyx-beaded necklace or a fine sterling chain necklace, depending upon the piece.The exciting news is that in January 2020 we moved a significant step forward and perfected a method of setting the finished lace pieces in sterling silver. This means you can now wear our beautiful lace heart encased in silver as a necklace.The silver used is, of course, sterling silver proudly bearing Lily Gardner’s own hallmark, granted to her by London’s Assay Office. This revered institution exists to put a royal stamp on all solid silver pieces it has weighed, giving assurance to their purity. If you own a sterling silver heart necklace, it will bear this mark and you can be assured of its heirloom status.
The centrepiece and most popular heart in our lace jewellery collection is the traditionally-shaped Lace in Silver heart necklace.
If you are looking for a delicate, feminine and small pendant necklace for someone who loves smaller items for everyday wear (and indeed they may be petite themselves), our small lace heart necklace is ideal. Both affordable in price but stunningly beautiful, our pendant necklaces are ideal for everyday.
To make a stronger impression, the slightly larger ‘medium’ classic traditional heart shaped necklace is another solid choice. This is a handsome item and a standout piece offering more lace pattern while remaining a compact size.
If you are giving to someone who prefers unusual jewellery that is still minimal and original, then Lily Gardner’s Wild Heart silver necklace is a certain solution. It hints at the traditional heart profile but then goes its own wild way in a long elegant V shape. This pendant really favours a V-neckline which echoes its shape. It is therefore an ideal necklace for shirts or necklines with a certain plunge about them!Discreet yet dramatic, it’s a sharper, less traditional alternative heart. It looks slightly dangerous and is part heart, part arrow - Cupid would surely approve!
London jewellery designer Lily Gardner’s Lace-in-Silver Heart Necklaces have been conceived and designed to add layers of romantic meaning to your Valentine's gift.
The heart shape is of course a symbol of love. But these necklaces are also full of legacy. By combining the world’s most intricate textile with a hallmarked precious silver, Lily Gardner has created a contemporary piece of jewellery that is also a testimony to craftsmanship and tradition
The lace we feature in our collection is still produced in Northern France, using a textile made on 19th century English looms. These huge machines were originally smuggled into France during the Luddite revolution. The final product is called Leavers Lace and is an exquisite combination of French and English engineering and artistry. Ingeniously the machines that create the lace mimic the acute delicacy of the finest handmade bobbin lace.
Even the skill required to thread these looms has been passed down through generations of lace makers. They are all trained to detect the slightest change in the sound of the looming process which might denote a broken thread - somewhere. Over 8000 threads are used for each single metre of couture lace produced by this method, so the setting up and making of the lace is a meticulous and painstaking process.Lily Gardner’s jewellery uses one of the most intricate patterns of lace, featuring a unique shadow rose design dating back to the 17th century. With the help of digital lazering, we are able to identify the optimal part of the rose outlines in the material to ensure the fullest lace pattern is included in each heart necklace.
The techniques used to create our new Lace-in-Silver heart necklaces have taken years to perfect. We design, make, mould and hand finish the components that encase our beautiful lace heart shapes.This collection was our inevitable answer to increasing requests for heirloom pieces; and silver as a precious metal was an obvious choice. All our lace silver heart necklaces are made from the purest 925 silver, and the exclusive Lily Gardner hallmark gives assurance that our collection has been certified as pure by the Assay Office in London.
What are hallmarks? Hallmarks date back to the 14th century and were an exacting method for the Crown to ensure that all coins had the requisite proportion of silver. Sometimes illegal coinage was made with lesser ‘base’ metals. A hallmark of 925 means that 92.5% of the metal is pure silver - allowing the description ‘sterling silver’. Pure silver is actually too soft without the addition of other metals (typically copper) but this is strictly controlled. To be certified, each maker has their silver pieces weighed then marked as qualified with a hallmark. The hallmark shows: the assay office location; the name of the maker, in our case marked with an LG; and the year it was hallmarked. This should be the hall mark video with set image on the space?
If you are looking for a memorable and unusual token of your love to give on Valentine’s Day, a heart necklace from Lily Gardner London provides a beautiful, romantic and thoroughly original gift. But don’t take our word for it. British Vogue says it’s a "Must Have."