The History of Gifting Jewellery for Valentine's Day

The History of Gifting Jewellery for Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day, celebrated annually on February 14th, stands as a testament to love and affection between intimate companions. This day, rich in history and tradition, has evolved from ancient rituals to a modern celebration that spans across the globe, embracing all forms of love. Among the most cherished customs is the gifting of jewellery, a practice that not only symbolises the depth of one's feelings but also acts as a lasting memento of love.

The tradition of exchanging gifts, particularly jewellery, on Valentine's Day, is deeply embedded in the fabric of this celebration. Jewellery, with its inherent beauty and lasting nature, is seen as a perfect metaphor for the enduring and precious nature of love. From simple tokens of affection in ancient times to the elaborate and sophisticated pieces of the modern era, the act of gifting jewellery has become a key element of Valentine's Day. It transcends mere physical value, embodying sentiments of love, commitment, and appreciation that words alone cannot fully express.


The Historical Roots of Valentine’s Day

The tradition of celebrating love and the practice of gifting jewellery on Valentine's Day are steeped in a rich tapestry of history that spans centuries and cultures. The roots of Valentine's Day itself can be traced back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, celebrated in the middle of February. This festival, which blended pagan rituals with the early threads of Christian tradition, was a time of fertility rites and pairing women with men by lottery. However, as the Roman Empire evolved, so too did the customs associated with love and devotion.


Wikivictorian / A painting of Saint Valentine

By the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine's Day, a day dedicated to honouring martyrdom and perhaps, more subtly, romantic love. Yet, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that Valentine's Day began to be universally associated with love in the romantic sense. This shift can be significantly attributed to the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and other poets of the time, who celebrated Valentine's Day as a day of romantic love in their writings. Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls," for example, is considered one of the first recorded associations of Valentine's Day with romantic love, describing it as a time when birds choose their mates.

As the concept of romantic love took firmer root in European culture, so did the tradition of expressing this love through gifts, particularly jewellery. The first recorded instances of gifting jewellery in a romantic context can be traced back to the Renaissance. This period was marked by a heightened appreciation for art, beauty, and the expression of love. Noble gentlemen would present their beloved with intricately designed pieces of jewellery as tokens of love and intention. These gifts were not only expressions of affection but also symbols of wealth, status, and commitment. Rings adorned with precious stones, lockets containing portraits or locks of hair, and ornate bracelets became popular tokens of affection.

The Evolution of Jewellery Gifting


Jewellery from the Victorian era

The tradition of gifting jewellery as a token of love and affection has undergone a remarkable evolution from its inception in ancient times to its status as a staple of modern Valentine's Day celebrations. This journey is not just a reflection of changing fashion and craftsmanship but also of societal norms, cultural practices, and the deepening understanding of love and romance.

Renaissance: The Dawn of Romantic Jewellery

During the Renaissance, the concept of courtly love flourished, and with it, the practice of gifting jewellery to signify romantic interest began to take shape. This period saw the emergence of intricately designed posy rings, inscribed with poetic love messages. These rings were exchanged between lovers, serving as a precursor to today's engagement and promise rings. The craftsmanship of the time emphasised detail and symbolism, with gemstones and metals chosen for their supposed magical or protective properties, believed to foster love and harmony between the couple.

Victorian Era: Symbolism and Sentimentality

The Victorian era marked a significant milestone in the evolution of jewellery gifting, heavily influenced by Queen Victoria's own love for ornate, symbolic pieces. Jewellery of this time was laden with meaning, often incorporating motifs like hearts, birds, flowers, and snakes (with the latter symbolising eternity). Lockets containing portraits or locks of hair became popular, embodying personal and intimate expressions of love. Advances in gemstone cutting and the industrial revolution's impact on jewellery production made these tokens of affection more accessible to the broader public, further embedding the tradition of gifting jewellery in romantic courtship.

20th Century: Commercialization and Mass Production

The 20th century witnessed the commercialization of Valentine's Day, with jewellery companies and retailers playing a pivotal role in promoting the idea of expressing love through precious stones and metals. The advent of mass production techniques made jewellery more widely available, while advertising campaigns from companies like De Beers in the mid-20th century popularised diamond engagement rings with the slogan "A Diamond is Forever." This era saw a shift towards standardised designs, with the heart-shaped pendant and the solitaire diamond ring becoming iconic symbols of Valentine's Day.

Late 20th to 21st Century: Personalization and Ethical Awareness

In recent decades, the trend has shifted towards personalization and unique, custom-designed pieces that reflect the individual tastes and stories of couples. The rise of artisan and bespoke jewellery designers has allowed for more expressive and meaningful exchanges of gifts, moving away from the generic to the deeply personal. Concurrently, there's been a growing awareness of the ethical and environmental implications of jewellery production. Consumers are increasingly seeking out sustainably sourced gemstones and eco-friendly materials, reflecting a broader societal shift towards responsibility and consciousness in consumption.

Giving jewellery as a gift on Valentine’s Day


Alongside flowers and cards, jewellery has become one of the most popular gifts to give on Valentine's Day. The giving of jewellery as a romantic gesture has a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations where it was used as a symbol of love and commitment. In the Middle Ages, people would exchange rings as a symbol of their love and devotion.

In modern times, the giving of jewellery on Valentine's Day has become a tradition for many couples. Diamond engagement rings, for example, are often given as a symbol of a couple's commitment to spend their lives together. Necklaces, bracelets and earrings are also popular gifts for Valentine's Day. Nowadays, these gifts can be personalised and customised to make them even more meaningful. They are not only a token of love but also a precious memory of the time and occasion.

The type of jewellery you give as a Valentine's Day gift will depend on your relationship with the person you're giving it to and their personal taste. Here are a few options to consider.

Diamond jewellery


Diamond Solitaire Ring

Diamonds are a classic choice for Valentine's Day. Diamond rings, earrings, and pendants are all popular options. If you're looking to express your love and commitment to your partner, a diamond engagement ring or a diamond anniversary band may be the perfect choice.

Personalised jewellery

A personalised piece of jewellery is a thoughtful and unique gift. You can have a special message engraved on a piece of jewellery, or get their name or initials inscribed. This will make the jewellery item special and unique to the person you're giving it to.

Gold and silver jewellery


A dainty emerald pendant, attached to a delicate gold chain

Gold and silver jewellery are also popular choices for Valentine's Day gifts. You can opt for something simple such as a gold or silver chain, or a minimalist and elegant pendant, or you could opt for something more elaborate such as a filigree necklace or a statement bangle.

Gemstone jewellery

If your loved one has a favourite gemstone, you could give them a piece of jewellery featuring that gemstone. For example, a ruby necklace or earrings for a July birthstone, a sapphire for September and so on.

Trillion Cut Emerald and Diamond Necklace

Matching jewellery

You can also opt for matching jewellery, for example, a pair of matching rings, bracelets or necklaces. This would give you a sense of togetherness and will be a nice way of showing your affection and commitment.


Jonathan Borba / A couple enjoying themselves on Valentine’s Day

As we journey through the pages of history, tracing the evolution of gifting jewellery on Valentine's Day, we uncover a tradition rich in symbolism and steeped in expressions of love. From the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia to the present day, the act of presenting precious stones and metals as tokens of affection has transcended centuries, cultures, and evolving societal norms. This enduring practice highlights not only the timeless nature of love but also the universal desire to immortalise our deepest emotions in something tangible and lasting.

The significance of jewellery as a gift lies in its ability to convey messages that words alone cannot. A simple piece of jewellery—a ring, a necklace, or a bracelet—can symbolise a promise, a commitment, or a cherished memory. It's a testament to the enduring power of love, an emblem of beauty and durability that mirrors the qualities we seek in our relationships. In this light, jewellery becomes more than just an accessory; it becomes a vessel for our stories, a keepsake of our affections.


In the modern era, the tradition of gifting jewellery on Valentine's Day has been both criticised and celebrated. Critics point to the commercialization of love, where the intrinsic value of affection seems overshadowed by the price tag of the gift. Yet, beneath the surface of commercial transactions lies a deeper truth: the act of choosing and giving jewellery is a deeply personal one, imbued with thoughtfulness and consideration. It's a reflection of knowing someone intimately—their tastes, their desires, their dreams—and seeking to encapsulate that knowledge in a gift that lasts.

The history of gifting jewellery on Valentine's Day is a testament to the human capacity for love and the desire to express it in enduring, tangible forms. As we look to the future, this tradition, like love itself, is likely to evolve, reflecting the changing times and the timeless emotions at its heart. Whether through a simple band of gold or a diamond that catches the light, the act of giving jewellery is a bridge between past and present, a reminder that some sentiments, like the precious materials we gift, are indeed eternal. In the end, the tradition of gifting jewellery on Valentine's Day endures because it speaks to a fundamental truth: the need to express love in ways that last, echoing through time like the lustre of a well-chosen gemstone.

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