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Heart to Heart:
The Iconography of Love

From elaborate Victorian Valentines to modern-day emojis, the heart has served as a standard-bearer of love throughout time. When words fail us we fall back on symbols, and there is no more artful way to illustrate romance than with the image of a heart.

The heart as a representation of love can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The giving of heart jewelry as a token of affection grew in popularity throughout the centuries and became widely popular when Valentine’s Day took on a romantic connotation in 18th century England. In the Georgian era, heart-shaped rock crystal lockets and garnet rimmed brooches were eagerly, and sometimes surreptitiously, shared between lovers.

In the twentieth century the love affair between the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson was told through the deeply personal and extravagant jewelry they exchanged with each other. The first piece the Duke gave his future wife was a gold Cartier heart charm inscribed with the French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s quote, “the heart has its reasons.” It seems the heart has its resonance as well.

Today, the tradition continues as the heart reigns supreme as a symbol of enduring love, a talisman of one’s abiding affection and a gift to cherish.