Celebrate America With Jewelry
In honor of the patriotic summer season—Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day—let’s take a brief look at the role jewelry plays as an expression of patriotism.
Memorial Day originated in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. Originally called “Decoration Day,” its purpose was for the nation to remember its fallen soldiers and decorate their graves with flowers.
Flag Day, June 14, commemorates the adoption of the U.S. flag, which happened on that day on 1777 by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1918, but Congress didn’t make it official until 1949.
And, of course, Independence Day, July 4, celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress.
So what does any of this have to do with jewelry?
Both the Civil War and the first Memorial Day occurred during the Victorian era (1837-1901). If you recall our discussion of Downton Abbey, the lighter, happier jewelry of the Edwardian period was the opposite of the somber, dark styles of the Victorian period, when black mourning jewelry was a popular trend set by Britain’s Queen Victoria after the death of her beloved Prince Albert in 1861. Today, however, in jewelry as well as fashion, black conveys sophistication rather than mourning.
In any country’s jewelry history, there’s likely to be some kind of jewelry that signifies national pride. In the United States, common motifs for patriotic jewelry are jeweled flags, eagles, and Lady Liberty’s torch, all of which are perennially popular and especially so in times of war or national crisis. But one doesn’t necessarily need to wear a flag to convey patriotism. Red, white, and blue jewelry makes a subtle statement of pride.