Date: 1706

Geography: Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Gold, hair, and crystal

Dimensions: 9/16 x 13/16 in. (1.4 x 2.1 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.532


The earliest jewelry made and owned in America was of a sentimental nature, related either to courtship and marriage or to death and mourning. Rings were often presented at funerals to relatives and close friends of the deceased. Human hair and symbols of death were sometimes incorporated into mourning jewelry. Heart-shaped lockets were another type of personalized jewelry. In this example, a faceted crystal was secured to the gold back by a crimped, scalloped edge. Beneath the glass, a tightly woven plait of light brown hair was laid onto a silk background. The locket is inscribed on its reverse with the death date of the deceased: obt 20 / of April / 1706 above an engraved skull.