Skip to content
Home » Blog » Articles » History » Sweetheart Jewellery

Sweetheart Jewellery

Sweetheart jewellery is a modern term that is used to describe jewellery made as a symbol of wartime connection and separation. It is worn to remind the wearer of a relative or sweetheart serving in the military. These items also act as a public notice of the serving relative.

The history of Military / Sweetheart jewellery can be traced back to the mid Victorian period with the rise in popularity of the term ‘Mizpah’ and its use in Jewellery design.
Mizpah is a Hebrew word that means ‘watchtower’ and is commonly translated as ‘May God watch over you.’ In the Victorian period the word, along with the associated Bible quote ‘The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent, one from another’ came to be used as a reminder between two people that they are loved always, no matter where they are, apart or together.
This phrase, and quote can be found on brooches and rings dating back to various colonial conflicts under the British Empire including the Crimean War; Zulu & Boer Wars.

During the American Civil War we can see the beginning of the process to incorporate military designs into jewellery. With soldiers presenting regimental badges as love tokens to their favourite camp followers. These were then converted into brooches by local jewellers by the simple addition of a brooch pin.

During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) we see some of the earliest examples of British regimental Sweetheart Jewellery appearing. These are nearly all items produced by the soldiers from parts of their uniform – including buttons, cap badges or plates – that have been converted into badges or brooches. Towards the end of the war some British jewellers began to create some designs in silver featuring regimental crests. The brooches were often in the shape of the inverted horseshoe as a protective superstition.

During the First World War this practice of creating little mementoes of jewellery from uniform or scrap metal was resurrected as a way to occupy the time while serving in France and Belgium and became known as ‘Trench Art’.

While back home jewellers realised the commercial potential behind these ‘Sweetheart’ items and began to mass produce items featuring regimental crests or colours. Hundreds of different styles and designs can be found. From simple bar brooches in base metals with a regimental crest, through to elaborate platinum creations set with precious stones.
Some of the most common examples from this period are round mother-of-pearl brooches, with silver fittings and silver (or brass) and enamel representations of regimental badges. Some examples can also be found with tortoiseshell, or even rare early plastic examples.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 there was another spike in the production and popularity of military jewellery items. Many jewellers began to reproduce their designs from the First World War.

As the war progressed so did designs, and styles evolve as jewellers were forced into the use of newer materials. Some great examples from the Second World War can be found made from bakelite, celluloid, wood and perspex.

While many metals were required for use in the war effort, such as tin and brass, silver and gold were largely still available for the use of jewellers creating high-end items. These were heavily taxed when sold, but some stunning brooches, rings and lockets were still produced.

WW2 RAF diamond set Regimental brooch, platinum and 15ct gold mount with enamel decorations

Please check out the Militaria section of our store to browse a selection from our current stock of Sweetheart Jewellery items.


The fashion, patriotism, and romance of World War II sweetheart jewelry by Kathleen Golden
Commercial Sweetheart Jewellery by Dianne Rutherford
Sweetheart Jewelery by Steven Roy Booth
Military Sweetheart Jewellery I, II & III by Pamela M. Caunt