With the growing popularity of cremation (48.5% projected for US in 2015 from 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report), manufacturers and sellers of cremation jewelry are seeing a major uptick in business.
But what is cremation jewelry and why do people want it? Cremation jewelry, also called memorial jewelry, funeral jewelry or remembrance jewelry is simply a way for people to hold close to a loved one. Cremation jewelry comes in all shapes, styles, sizes and price ranges depending on how you want the piece adorned. Some people go all out with precious metals and gemstones while others opt for something less extravagant.
With some retailers, you also have the option to personalize your piece of jewelry with engraved text or photos. Most pieces of cremation jewelry are designed to hold a small portion of cremains (like a locket), but people also use the jewelry to hold other pieces of memories such as burial soil, memorial flowers or even small lockets of hair. Some manufacturers will actually infuse cremains into the piece of jewelry.
Remembering loved-ones by way of jewelry has been around for centuries if not millenniums. In the 17th and 18th centuries, people were presented with “mourning rings” by families of the deceased as a sign of their social status. These rings were usually inscribed with the name, date of birth and date of death of the diseased. This trend actually continued until the early 1900s.
During the Civil War and Victorian era, it was not uncommon for families to create memorial jewelry from locks of a loved-one’s hair. When Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert died in 1861, the queen wore a lock of his hair, in a brooch over her heart, for the remainder of her life. Men who went off to fight in the Civil War left behind locks of hair with their loved-ones in case they never made it back home. Magazine tutorials and pamphlets gave step-by-step instructions on how to create intricate woven pieces of hair jewelry and art.
Cremation jewelry has sometimes been a controversial topic for the family members. If there is a dispute between the next of kin (family members) about what to do with the body of their loved-one (including placement of cremains within jewelry), it’s important to know who has the rights to decide according to the statute. These statutes provide particular significance when the decedent died without a will.
Cremation jewelry can serve as a meaningful way of remembering your loved-one. If you like the idea of holding onto a memory but opposed to carrying around the cremated remains, remember that you can use jewelry (pendants and lockets) to hold other memories like sand from a favorite beach, a special photo, soil from a favorite garden, a lock of hair, or whatever sparks a fond memory.