The History of Valentine's Day Jewelry

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Valentine’s Day means one thing only: love is in the air!

A day of passion, romance and the deliciously dizzying feeling of falling in love.

February 14th is the perfect day to show that special someone how much you care. 

But hold onto your heart-shaped balloons for a moment!

How did the tradition of gifting jewelry, and Valentine’s Day itself, come to be? 

From origins in an ancient Roman festival to depictions of a modern-day Cupid, Valentine’s Day has been through a fascinating historical and cultural transformation.

So buckle up, love-struck lovers! We're about to whisk you away on a journey through time, tracing how our tokens of affection have become the language of love.

Come on board the love train, and let’s uncover the mystery of Valentine’s together!

The Historical Roots of Valentine's Day

The Ancient Roman Festival of Lupercalia

Lupercalia wasn't just a day; it was an intricate series of rituals deeply rooted in Rome's beliefs about fertility. 

The festival involved a sacrifice of goats and dogs to cleanse the city and increase fertility - bizarre, yet true!

And we can’t forget to mention the Lupercalia matchmaking lottery, which would see young men drawing the names of young women in the hope of kindling a long-term love spark. 

As Christianity grew in popularity, however, these pagan practices were reinterpreted. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine's Day to honor a Christian martyr. 

This shift marked the transformation of a pagan fertility festival into a celebration of romantic love: this was the beginning of Valentine’s Day as we know it!

The Legend of Saint Valentine

Valentine, meaning ‘powerful’ or ‘worthy’, was a popular name in ancient Rome. With several stories from saints of the same name, there’s no definitive answer about who Saint Valentine was. 

One theory is that Valentine was a priest who, when imprisoned, healed his captor’s blind daughter. Legend says that, before being tortured and decapitated on February 14, he sent the girl a note signed “Your Valentine”. 

Another theory is that Saint Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, a town about 70 miles northeast of Rome, who was martyred on February 14.

Could it be thathe was the real Valentine? 

The only thing we can say with certainty is this: no one really knows who the real Saint Valentine was.

The Valentine mystery is fitting tribute to love itself, for isn’t this the greatest enigma of them all?!

From Pagan Rites to Christian Romance

The transformation from Lupercalia to Valentine's Day is a fascinating story of cultural evolution.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, pagan traditions around fertility made way for a new romantic era. 

This reimagining of an ancient festival into a Christian celebration paved the way for Valentine's Day as we know it today.

At this cultural turning point, people started exchanging tokens of love, including jewelry. 

Cupid's Influence on Valentine's Day

In the tapestry of Valentine's Day, no figure is more central than Cupid, the storied deity whose origins are as ancient as they are enchanting. 

The God of Love was not merely a cherub with a quiver.

Cupid is passion’s pulse, an artisan of desire whose arrows were rumored to coax even the most reluctant hearts into falling in love. 

Since Cupid’s origins in ancient Rome, Cupid has become the face of Valentine’s Day.

From seasonal cards and love-themed decorations, love (and Cupid) is all around!

Renaissance: Cupid's Artistic Renaissance

In the Renaissance era, Cupid took the spotlight in art and literature through Leonardo Di Vinci’s paintings, Sandra Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”, and Dante Alighieri’s poetry “Divine Comedy”.

Artists and poets from this era depicted Cupid as a playful romantic character, yet they also viewed him as a symbol of deep and meaningful love.

The fascination with Cupid contributed to a deeper cultural appreciation of love and its celebration on Valentine's Day.

The likes of Di Vinci, Botticelli and Aligheri captured the romantic spirit of Valentine’s, which we still associate with today. 

Cupid and Modern Valentine's Day

Fast forward to the present day on our whistle-stop tour of love, and Cupid remains the most infamous Valentine's Day icon.

The cheeky cherub can be seen on seasonal cards, decorations, and jewelry designs. In more recent decades,

Cupid has undergone a 21st-century makeover, giving the ancient God of Love a more contemporary look and feel. 

Cupid's lasting impact on Valentine's Day shows how ancient symbols have great influence on present-day traditions. 

Valentine’s Day is steeped in history and has become a worldwide celebration of love, desire and affection. 

Traditional Gifts of Valentine's Day

From Spoken Words to Love Notes

Long before people put pen to paper, declarations of love were spoken aloud through poetry or singing songs.

As reading and writing skills became more mainstream, loving sentiments started to be captured in written prose and kept as precious keepsakes.

Songs and poetry are precious yet fleeting, whereas written notes and cards immortalize moments of swirling passion. 

The practice of exchanging written notes to express love and affection dates back to the Middle Ages.

By the 15th century, handwritten valentines began to appear, with one of the earliest known valentines being sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.

Roses & Chocolates: A Classic Duo

Ahh the delicious aroma of a rose bouquet; the taste of delectable chocolate!

Roses and chocolates are quintessential Valentine's Day gifts, each symbolizing different aspects of love. 

Roses, with their soft petals and delicate scent, represent the beauty and complexity of love, while their variety of colors conveys different messages of affection.

Red roses are a classic symbol of deep affection and enduring love, whereas white roses are often associated with marriage and new beginnings. 

Chocolates, on the other hand, are a treat for the senses, symbolizing sweetness and indulgence in a relationship. 

The popularity of these gifts is rooted in their ability to convey feelings without words, making them the perfect universal language of love.

Roses and chocolates embody the perfect balance of beauty, sweetness, and sentimentality. They are - and surely always will be - a beloved staple of Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day Cards

The advent of Valentine's Day cards was a significant milestone in the evolution of this love-struck season of romance.

Starting as handmade and intricately designed creations, cards allow us to express love in a way that’s both creative and personal.

The tradition of sending Valentine’s Cards evolved significantly in the 19th century with the advancement of printing technology, which made it easier to produce and distribute cards on a larger scale.

Esther Howland, an American artist and businesswoman, is credited with popularizing Valentine's Day greeting cards in the United States in the 1840s by mass-producing beautiful, elaborate creations with lace and ribbons.

By the early 20th century, companies like Hallmark Cards began manufacturing Valentine's Day cards, leading to widespread card sales. 

The Emergence of Valentine's Day Jewelry

Industrial Revolution: Jewelry for All

The Industrial Revolution saw incredible technological advances. Mass production became a reality, and rapidly decreased the cost of jewelry.

No longer was glitz and glam reserved for the wealthy elite! The Industrial Revolution made jewelry affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of budget or status. 

As jewelry became more accessible and affordable, it quickly became a popular gift of choice for Valentine’s Day.

The Industrial Revolution era is credited with transforming jewelry from a symbol of wealth and status, to a universal symbol of love and affection. 

The 1980s: Diamonds are Forever

Ahh the 1980s! A time of big hair, shoulder pads - and, of course, diamonds!

The 80s saw a significant shift in Valentine's Day jewelry trends, largely influenced by the diamond industry’s marketing campaigns. 

The famous slogan "A Diamond is Forever" - originally written by copywriter Frances Gerety - perfectly encapsulated the sentiment of enduring love and commitment. 

Gerety, who was employed in a Philadelphia based advertising agency, had been working on a series of ads for the diamond industry. 

Exhausted after a long day at work, Gerety scribbled down a slogan idea before bed, ready to present to the board the following day.

Little did she know that her slogan - ‘A Diamond is Forever’ - would take the diamond and advertising industry by storm.

In 1999, ‘A Diamond is Forever’ was named as ‘The Slogan of the Century’ by Advertising Age. 

Jewelry as a Symbol of Love

As the saying goes: actions speak louder than words!

Saying how we feel often doesn’t go far enough; giving the perfect Valentine’s gift allows us to share emotions that words alone can’t convey.

From simple lockets with hidden messages to intricate rings with precious stones, each piece tells a story of love, memory, and promise.

And remember - jewelry transcends material value. No matter the cost, it becomes a cherished keepsake with both personal and emotional significance. 

In short? Gifting jewelry is the perfect way to tell someone you love them!


Modern Valentine's Day Jewelry Trends

The Rise of Designer and Costume Jewelry

Designer jewelry, known for its quality and exclusivity, offers a timeless and sophisticated expression of love. 

With roots all the way back to the 18th century, costume jewelry is an affordable, playful and often colorful way to elevate an outfit - and have some fun with your style! 

Online Shopping: Changing the Face of Gifting

Online shopping has changed the game for all our purchases - and that includes Valentine's Day gifts.

Whatever your preferred style or budget, there’s so much to choose from online -  even customizable pieces are just a click away!

No need to wander round shops for hours on end: premium jewelry can now be delivered straight to your doorstep.

Ordering the perfect Valentine’s Gift from the comfort of your own home - what could be better?! 

The Charm of Custom and Handcrafted Pieces

Cue the drumroll for the artisans—those magicians of metal and stone who conjure up trinkets that whisper directly to the heart.

Handcrafted jewelry isn't just made; it's composed, like a love song with a melody of materials and a rhythm of craftsmanship. 

Then there’s customization, the secret sauce of sentimentality.

It's where you get to play Cupid, aiming precise arrows of personal touches—be it an engraving of a significant date, or your names intertwined.

These touches transform a mere accessory into a talisman of togetherness, a memento of magic moments.

Custom and handcrafted jewelry have become increasingly popular as Valentine's Day gifts, offering a level of personalization that mass-produced pieces simply cannot match.

Nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like a one of a kind piece!

The Symbolism and Emotional Value of Valentine's Day Jewelry

More Than Just a Gift

Jewelry isn't just jewelry; it's wearable poetry, a love story looped around a finger or draped across a collarbone. 

It's a gift that says, "I've thought about you”. Jewelry is a powerful way to express how you feel, in a way that transcends words alone. 

Understanding Jewelry Symbolism

Jewelry is steeped in symbolism; the perfect expression of enduring love.

Heart-shaped charms say "I'm yours, forever", lockets whisper love secrets, and diamonds promise forever with every facet. 

The metals and stones you choose are a lexicon of love—gold glows with purity, rubies blaze with desire, and pearls exude grace. 

Understanding the symbolism behind each piece of jewelry adds layers of meaning to the gift, making it a deeply personal and heartfelt expression of affection.

Personal Stories in Jewelry

Every clasp and curve of Valentine's Day jewelry is a verse in a couple's poem.

It's the heritage in a heirloom piece, the whisper of a first date in the choice of a gemstone, the reflection of a shared dream in a bespoke design. 

Valentine's Day jewelry holds a story, influenced by personal and cultural narratives. For some, jewelry might evoke memories of shared moments or milestones in their relationship. 

Jewelry isn't just adornment; it's a wearable archive of affection that tells our personal tale of love. 

The Evolving Nature of Valentine's Jewelry

As fluid as love itself, the story of Valentine's Day jewelry is ever-unfolding!

Changing fashion trends and advances in technology, including 3D-printed jewelry and virtual try-on options, have made the selection process more exciting and accessible than ever.

In today’s world, the ancient allure of adornment meets sustainability and ethically sourced pieces.

The gift you place in the palm of your loved one is more than a piece of jewelry—it's a link in a chain of positive change, a symbol that the love we celebrate today is a love that also honors tomorrow.

What a love-fueled quest we’ve been on!

From ancient Rome to the present day, the long-standing tradition of gifting jewelry on Valentine's Day lives on.

It’s a testament to the enduring power of love and the timeless desire to express it through meaningful gifts. 

From simple yet profound tokens of the past to today's diverse and personalized options, jewelry remains a central symbol of love and affection on Valentine's Day.

As we celebrate this special day, let us remember that each piece of jewelry is more than just a gift – it's a symbol of the unique and beautiful story of each relationship.

Without a doubt, the gift of jewelry on Valentine's Day is one of the most powerful ways to say, "I love you."

Are you looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day jewelry for that special someone?

We’ve got you covered.

Visit us at our showroom or speak with one of our diamond experts online.

Peter Manka Jr

Peter Manka Jr. - Owner at Ben Garelick

Peter Manka Jr. is a passionate member of the family business who joined Ben Garelick in the early 2000s after working in product licensing for Sesame Workshop & The Jim Henson Company for many years. He obtained a degree in diamonds and jewelry from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in order to sharpen his jewelry skills. He takes great pride in providing exceptional customer service and helping clients find the perfect piece of jewelry.

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