Lover's knots: the most romantic motif in jewellery history?

Of all the sentimental motifs in jewellery design, the lover’s knot is one of my favourites. An enduring symbol of love, its interlacing pattern has no discernible beginning or end, representing the unbreakable bond between lovers. For the romantically inclined, it’s pretty much perfect, communicating a simple but powerful message through an elegant, easy to wear motif. 

Found in Celtic artwork, ancient Egyptian sculptures and ancient Greek jewellery, the association of knots with love has appeared in many different cultures throughout history. In the 19th century, sailors would wear a love knot bracelet woven out of rope as a reminder of their loved ones when they were away from home, which also acted as a talisman to keep them safe while at sea. Another legend tells the story of young lovers tying two small tree branches together to form a lover’s knot. If the knot stayed tied for a year, they were destined to be together. 

By the time the Victorian era came around, the love knot was already well established as a symbol of love - one whose interwoven design joined people together for eternity. This romantic period of jewellery design saw sentimental motifs flourish, driven by Queen Victoria’s own love of jewellery imbued with meaning (her wedding ring from Albert featured a snake, representative of eternal love). The love knot, like the forget-me-not flower, the arrow and the swallow, became part of a language of love that found the perfect expression in jewels from this period.

Love knots remain a classic motif in contemporary jewellery design, with everyone from Tiffany to Pandora, Graff to Georg Jensen, creating jewellery collections inspired by this classic symbol of love. Nothing beats a genuine antique from the great Victorian era, however, and Matilda is one such exquisite example. Made in 1893, the classic design features what is known as a true lover’s knot – a decorative knot comprised of two intertwined overhand knots, fashioned in 15-carat yellow gold.

Our mission? To hunt out vintage engagement rings below £2,000 

Claire Roberts, co-founder of The Vintage Ring Company