Friday, February 5, 2010


Woman throughout history have always been aware of fashion. Some trends last longer than others while some have remained in one form or another for a very long time. I remember not so very long ago that paper dresses were the "in" thing in fashion.

In 1830 bead chains or neck chains made an appearance and only lasted a decade. A bead chain is comprised of tiny colored beads, thirteen beads per half inch compared to about seven beads today, are woven into strips, 1/2 inch wide and 40 to 60 inches in length and ended with silk ribbon ties. Not unlike samplers, the chains were worked with motifs of anchors, keys, crosses or hearts. Some had names and even phrases while some were signed and dated. They had various uses. They were used as watch chains by both men and women, others were woven in a woman's hair and draped over the forehead. At times they were made and given to a loved one. A phrase like "Forget me not" and "We part to meet in Heaven" were both sentimental and phrases of remembrance. The chains could either be commissioned or they could be purchased in a jewelry store. Sometimes they originated in young ladies' academies. These bead chains often had a religious and moralistic mottoes or had memorials and family registers stitched on them. Some of the more frequent symbols incorporated on a chain were a cross, an anchor and a heart which symbolized Faith, Hope and Charity. Others were a key and when worked in gold beads symbolized the "golden key of knowledge" - education and wisdom. A crown motif represented the ladder to heaven while birds and butterflies were symbols representing the soul and Resurrection. The three leaved clover represented the Holy Trinity.

Fashion trends over the years have taken many diverse forms. I have found this one particularly interesting and fun to research.


  1. I must find a picture of one of these lovely beads.
    The Victorians and their symbolism is fascinating isn't it?
    Different carvings and engravings were found on headstones too, each one a work of art from the stone mason... representing a heartfelt sentiment dedicated to the one that was lost but not forgotten.

  2. Miss Maddie,

    Investigating the past is fascinating. Stay tuned in. I will be posting a couple of pictures of a bead chain in the next day or two. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.