Cremation Jewelry - The Origins and Purpose of Jewelry in Mourning

by Alex Johnson September 01, 2020 4 min read

Every culture has long had their own unique ways of processing and coping with the death of a loved one. This can be attributed to how people’s experiences and emotional upbringing directly influence their ability to process grief and how they may react. To this day, an exact mourning practice cannot exist since everyone innately approaches grief differently. 



One of the most common denominators with mourning practices across cultures has been the presence of mourning/cremation jewelry. Despite mourning jewelry initially serving a symbolic role rather than a practical one, modern cremation jewelry has acquired the function of holding a small memento or the cremains of a loved one. 

Although mourning jewelry simply isn’t for everyone, it continues to serve as a powerful physical representation of life and death. The passing of a loved one is never easy, when they’re gone, their absence is tangible. However, their memory continues to live on with us forever, our love never fading. Their stamp on our hearts can never fade, we just have to find ways to physically bring them with us wherever we go. 

A Brief History of Mourning and Cremation Jewelry

In the 16th Century, the Latin expression “memento mori” directly translated to “remember death,” or “remember you will die,” but the term initially came about as the name for jewelry that was meant to signify passing. During the initial years cremation jewelry often consisted of rings or armbands, sometimes necklaces or brooches. These earlier pieces served as a token to remind people of their loved ones, this means these jewelry pieces were not equipped to carry any ashes or mementos. They were just a powerful reminder that life is a cycle with a finite end, and at some point, everyone must experience this end and pass on.

Following the memento mori pieces is Georgian era mourning jewelry, originating from 17th century England. Mourning jewelry was expensive, a luxury only those of wealth could afford as they were crafted by hand from the finest materials available. The Georgian era brought about, for the first time in history, mourning jewelry that was created with small compartments designed to hold a lock of hair of the deceased, or a pinch of soil from their grave. 

These early cremation jewelry pieces were remarkable and intricate; carved into ivory/stone and hand painted. They depicted scenes of forests and sitting rooms, somber faces, or engravings of names and dates. These pieces would have been worn during the period of mourning as a symbolic commemoration of the deceased. 

Modern Cremation Jewelry for Ashes

Over time, cremation jewelry has evolved to be much more modest in appearance, the intricacy lost with time. Initially, cremation jewelry was created for the purpose of alerting those around that the wearer was in mourning. Today, jewelry to hold ashes offers the chance to keep a loved one close at all times in a subtle way, so love and grief may be expressed without drawing too much attention to the purpose behind the jewelry piece. 


While we may be proud of our love, grieving is an individual process and cremation jewelry is appealing for the privacy it grants to its wearer. Taking the form of pendants and bracelet beads, cremation jewelry comes in a variety of forms to suit every purpose and occasion. Ashes jewelry is now created with a small compartment that allows for a portion of ashes or personal mementos (lock of hair, sand/soil from scattering/burial site) to be stored, creating a handheld memorial of a loved one. 

Cremation jewelry is essentially a miniature memorial and should be approached with the same solemnity of a burial, entombment, or inurnment. Cremation jewelry can also be given as a gift to the bereaved to help them through their grief after the passing of their loved one. In doing so, the jewelry can serve as a family heirloom to be passed down for generations. 

Here at GetUrns we exclusively offer beautifully and expertly designed pieces; each pendant, bead, or earring, crafted with the utmost precision and care. Our selection of cremation jewelry and human ashes jewelry along with all kinds of metals: rhodium plated, sterling silver, and solid/plated gold. Sterling silver necklace for ashes and beads alike come in various forms as well; everything from feathers, hearts, butterflies, etc can be found when looking through our selection of sterling silver cremation jewelry. 

GetUrns implements numerous quality assurance inspections on jewelry before any piece reaches our customer’s hands. We truly care about our client’s experience and we understand this difficult time should be as free as possible from stress and complications, this means we put much importance on making sure each piece of cremation jewelry is flawless and thoughtfully prepared with every order. 

Treasure the memory of your loved ones and keep them close to you forever with one of our hand selected designs, chosen with the intent to respectfully and elegantly honor their life and legacy.


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