There is nothing more scandalous or romantic than wearing a piece of your lover’s eye, or even better, a secret lover, where only you know the identity of the subject you’re wearing.
The classic “lover’s eye” term was popularized by Edith Weber, an American antique collector, however when this style of jewelry began trending in Britain during the 1780’s it was actually referred to and only known as “eye miniatures.” These pieces were originally designed and intended to be worn as a depiction of a person's lover, worn discreetly on the wrist or near the heart. Often mysterious because the identity of the subject could be kept a secret as the jewelry only revealed a single tiny eye. Traditionally, the lover’s eye and sometimes a portion of their eyebrow would be set on plaques of ivory using watercolour, and fashioned in everything from lockets, to rings and brooches.
This jewelry trend was said to be inspired by King Geroge IV, who was The Prince of Whales during that time. Its popularity began to spread like wildfire after he had a miniaturist paint his eye and set it in a locket for his secret lover Maria Fitzherbert, whom he fell madly in love with proceeding to their scandalous affair. As romantic as this gesture was, the trend lasted much longer than their affair unfortunately, since his father George III forced them apart!
Different designs around the lover’s eye would typically hold a number of symbolistic meanings, for example pearls surrounding the lover’s eye represented tears, meaning the person had most likely passed away.
Flash forward, these beautiful pieces are now considered a rare collectible as there are only a thousand, if not less lover’s eyes circulating around the globe (as far as we know) today! Sadly, if you want to get your hands on an authentic lover’s eye, you will have to pay top dollar or visit a museum to see the ancient beauty and romance they withhold.
"I have looked into your eyes with my eyes,
I have put my heart near your heart "
-Pope John XXIII