image shows different types of lockets Tips & Guides

What is a Locket: A Guide to Locket Jewelry

Tips & Guides
image shows different types of lockets

Lockets come in all shapes and sizes. A heart is one of the most common locket shapes. But as seen at Fortune and Frame, they can come in the shapes of envelopes, books, and fortune cookies. The definition of a locket is “a small case usually of precious metal that has space for a memento and that is worn typically suspended from a chain or necklace.” Pictures are often the object that is most identified with lockets, but you can add any memento. A memento is anything that has meaning and of course small enough to fit in a locket! Examples of mementos that you can put in lockets are letters, favorite quotes, fabric, or even a charm! Even if you don’t have a meaningful picture, it doesn't mean you can't wear a locket! 

In This Article...

PhotoPictured Secret Diary Book Locket (Pearl)


What is the History of the Locket?

Locket jewelry dates back to the 16th century. What started as amulets used to protect the wearer from evil, are now the modern-day lockets we know and love. By the 17th century, lockets were starting to become more about the meaning of the pictures they held.  Lockets became the way to identify one's political affiliation or coat of arms. After the execution of  Charles I in 1649, people started to wear jewelry with his picture. locks of his hair, and different quotes of his. Wearing these was something done in secret, but was popular among his followers.

The 18th century saw a rise in using the locket to hold a lock of hair. To fit in the locket, hair had to get braided or curled. It was then shown off in a heart-shaped locket with a clear covering. The lock of the hair usually was of a deceased loved one, while the heart shape symbolized the love for the person.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that wearing the locket for people to see became “the thing to do.” When Prince Albert died, his widow Queen Victoria began to wear a locket. This locket had two sides, one with a lock of his hair and another with a portrait of him. People began to follow, especially since it had such a meaningful significance. It was a way to honor those who had passed away and acknowledge their death. Lockets were also important during the 19th century when it came to mourning. When someone died, those who were close to them wore dark clothing. Lockets added accessorization and color, as they had designs and gemstones on them.

With the 20th century came World War I and photographs. Soldiers began to give lockets with their pictures in them to loved ones. since they would be far from home. This was when the want for lockets skyrocketed.

As we come back to the 21st century, lockets have evolved once again. With more shapes than ever and more ways to personalize the jewelry, they don’t show any signs of slowing down. As technology improves, you can add more to lockets than ever.

What is the Meaning of a Locket?

What one decides to place inside a locket might have a different meaning to each wearer. Although, the meaning of the actual piece and why someone wears it is the same. People wear lockets to symbolize something they want to keep close to their hearts. Whether it be a memory, a small token, or a little note, whatever is in the locket is important to the wearer.

Lockets can also take on the role of manifestation. Since they are customizable, they allow you to keep your dreams close to your heart. You can carry around your dreams as a constant reminder. Whether it be a goal you have for yourself or a picture of a place that you hope to move to, you can have it near you at all times. This can keep you on track and give you a boost of confidence that keeps you pushing forward.

Lockets are often treasured family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. It’s never too late to invest in an heirloom and you could even be the one who starts it in your lineage.

Photo Pictured: Emerald Heart Deco Locket


What Are Lockets For?

There’s an idea that surrounds lockets that is false. Many people believe that you can only wear a locket if you are in love. You don’t need to be in a relationship to wear a locket. A locket can be a gift from a friend or family member. You can even buy one for yourself.

Lockets can be the perfect gift for anyone in your life. Events like a holiday, anniversaries, and going away parties call for sentimental gifts. For a gift to be sentimental, it must have meaning - something lockets are full of! The best part is that no two lockets will ever be the same. Even if they are the same design and brand, the message on the inside will be individualistic. If your best friend of ten years is moving away, you can get a locket with a picture of you two inside of it. You can also find a way to add a meaningful quote along with the picture.  Need some inspiration? One of my favorites is, “Together forever, never apart. Sometimes in distance, but never in heart.” Christmas and New Year’s are the perfect holidays for locket giving! Think of the receiver’s goals for the upcoming year. Give them a powerful manifestation quote to keep on them at all times. A quote fit for this would be “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice,” as said William Jennings Bryan.

One of the most “harmful” stigmas associated with lockets is the idea that only older women can wear them. People view lockets as more antique jewelry that is rarely seen on men, young adults, and children. That vision needs to be completely wiped away because it is far from the truth. Anyone can wear a locket. Everyone has dreams, goals, and personal mementos to carry around. Lockets are for everyone and not one specific type of person. 

Lockets are unique in the way that they can be both decorative jewelry and keepsakes. You can wear them to dress up an outfit and make a statement, or you can even discreetly wear one.  If they don’t match your outfit, or you want to keep your locket to yourself, you can easily hide it. Even if you hide your locket, you are still keeping the meaning with you.

What to Put in a Locket?

What you decide to put in either your locket or one you’re giving to someone, is going to vary from person to person. It also depends on the person who is going to wear it. Photos and portraits are the common things placed in lockets. They are easy to find and easy to get! But this doesn’t mean that photos are the only object that can go into lockets. 

Have you ever received a very special note? It doesn't matter who gave it to you, but you want those words to stay near and dear to your heart. With a locket, you can take a small note and fold it so that it fits into a necklace. You can even engrave some lockets with phrases or words from a letter. Whichever method you chose, the meaning is still all the same. The words in the letter are important to you and you want to hold them close. 

Believe it or not, a lock of hair is another memento that is still placed in lockets. Since lockets are often representative of loved ones, a lock of hair is a very personal addition to a locket. You can use a locket with a lock of hair to start a family heirloom. Locks of hair can be from loved ones who have passed or they can be a monumental event, such as a child's first haircut.

As a form of manifestation, you can fill lockets with things that aren’t yours, yet. You can even place pictures of places you want to travel to or a job that you want to land can in your piece of jewelry. This can be a constant reminder that everything you do can lead you to where you want to be. Also, this is a great way to put what you want out into the universe and let it come back to you. 

Lastly, lockets can be a personal accessory filled with pictures and words that you like. You can include memories, song lyrics, favorite quotes, or anything that makes you, you.


How to Put a Picture in a Locket?

If you’re using your locker to store an image, it might seem like common sense. Just place your desired picture inside the locket, close it, and voila! My mom and I thought that too when I first got my locket, but little did we know, we were wrong.  There was a process behind placing the picture inside. 

First things first, you want to make sure that the photo is the correct size. Since lockets come in all different shapes and sizes, there is no one size fits all. One of the best ways to get the correct photo size requires

  • your locket
  • tracing paper
  • a pencil
  • scissors
  • your photo
Once you have your materials, you’re going to open up your locket, make sure it's facing up towards you and that it is flat. This allows you to get the proper measurement. 

Then, take the tracing paper and place it over your open locket. Depending on your locket, it will either have one or two dips, and that’s where the picture(s) will go. 

When you cover the locket with the tracing paper, make sure that you hold the tracing down. You want to be able to see where it dips when you trace it. 

With this next step, you have to be very careful. You’re going to take your pencil and trace around the dip. The shape will be different depending on the locket. When you do this, you want to make sure not to rip the paper or make any creases. If this happens, you will need to start over because it will alter the shape and size. If the shape and size are not the same, your tracing will not match the locket. 

Next, you’re going to want to grab your scissors and cut out the tracing. Make sure that you cut on the lines so that it fits properly! 

Now that you're done tracing and cutting out, it’s time to start working on the picture. You’re going to place the shape you traced over the part of the image and lightly trace the picture with a pencil. Make sure that any part of the image that you want into the locket is within the borders of the traced shape. This will ensure you're including everything you want.

Lastly, you’re going to cut around the shape you traced and there you go! You have the perfect photo size for your locket! It doesn’t matter if it's a heart-shaped locket or a book-shaped locket, the size will fit perfectly.

Now that we have our image, it’s time to place the image inside the locket and make sure that it stays. Placing it in the locket does work- but you may find it slipping out of place. With something that has so much personal value to it, you don’t want to risk losing it. Luckily, making sure that your image stays is easy. All you have to do is use regular glue on the back of the image and place it in the dip of the open locket. Make sure that you leave your locket open until the glue dries.

Maybe you know what picture you want to use already, which means you’re ready to go! Here is some advice if you don’t know what picture you’re going to use yet or need help printing a picture for your locket.

  • The smaller the better - you don’t want the picture to be too big, or else you won’t be able to fit a good part of it in the locket 
  • If possible, don’t use the original photo if it's of importance - you don’t want it to get ruined! 
  • If you want to fit a whole image, you can measure image space to the best of your ability, resize your photo on an editing app, and print!

When and How Should I Wear My Locket?

To start things off, you can wear a locket at any time. There is no right or wrong time to wear one, and there are ways to work a locket with casual or formal wear. Of course, you want to make sure that the locket you chose to wear matches the type of style you’re going for. Here are some tips to make sure yours works!

Formal Wear

  • Make sure that the locket is delicate and minimalistic
  • A small heart or capsule locket can do the trick 
  • Stick with simple colors such as gold or silver 
  • Gemstones that are tasteful can also add a touch of color, yet still, be elegant 
  • Only wear one locket 
  • Match with earrings or a bracelet 
  • Consider where you are going 
  • Work, a wedding, a religious service
  • Wear a thinner chain
Casual Wear
  • You can be bolder 
  • Try out different shapes and colors -- such as fortune & Frame's Deco Heart Locket or Fortune Cookie Locket
  • A thin or chunky chain works 
  • If your chain is too long, double wrap it around your neck so that you can determine the length 
  • Wear the locket along with another necklace - you don’t have to pick only one

      You can wear any type of clothing with lockets, but it's important to consider the neckline of your outfit.  If the neckline is high, the locket will clash. The ideal neckline is a v-neck or lower cut. This will allow people to see your locket and it will fall nicely. You also want to make sure that the patterns and colors of your clothing work with your locket.

      You can pair lockets with any type of jewelry – earrings, and bracelets especially! If you’re going for a more formal look, try to match the metal colors and keep all the jewelry simple. As for a more casual look, you have much more of an opportunity to mix and match. You can match the different lengths, colors, and styles of jewelry. Mixing jewelry is a great form of self-expression and allows you to be an individual. PhotoPictured Silver Fortune Cookie Locket


      How to Open a Locket?

      Since the design of lockets is to keep important keepsakes inside, they don’t flip open with ease. They must stay closed so that nothing falls out and the wearer doesn't lose what's inside. Because of this, it is not always simple to open a locket. Having trouble getting your locket necklace to open? Here’s how to open one! 

      It is first important to figure out if your locket opens from the top, bottom, or side. To figure this out, you should be able to see hinges. If the locket opens from the side, the opposite side should have hinges. If it opens from the bottom, the top should have hinges and vice versa. Once you figure this out, you can then find the “catch,” which will be the key to getting the locket to open. First, you're going to put your fingernail in the catch and then wiggle it so that it opens up the locket! It is easy and once you get the hang of it, you will be able to open your locket in no time! 

      What Are the Different Types of Lockets?

      The most common locket is in the form of a necklace. Despite this, there are still many different types of lockets. From bracelets to varying necklaces, lockets can vary.

      One of the most unique is a photo locket watch. This piece of jewelry looks like your average watch, it goes around your wrist and still has a clock face. But when you lift the clock face, there is a picture underneath. This is a great option for both men and women who find meaning in sentimental photos. Some ideas of photos to use in a photo locket watch are from your wedding, your children, or your favorite place. 

      An Angel Wing locket is a necklace that honors loved ones who passed away. The concept of the necklace is the same. You open it and can place a photo or memento of your choice inside, but the design is different. There are angel wings that pull open and this is where you can place what you chose. It is simple, yet filled with meaning. 

      A unique way to personalize your locket necklace is to add your birthstone. A birthstone symbolizes the month someone was born and brings in good luck. This type of locket is perfect for manifestation and allowing luck into your life. Because of this, you may want to keep a goal inside of this locket. No matter what you place inside, it symbolizes keeping your wants close to your heart.

      Lockets are even important for your little ones! Lockets for children usually have animal designs or are a fun color. This makes them appealing to children and can also match their personality! Locket necklaces for children can be a great way for them to keep a piece of home with them at all times.  They are great for children starting school or going to summer camp for the first time. This keeps the people who mean the most to them nearby.
      PhotoPictured: Emerald Heart Deco Locket

      What Kinds of Locket Shapes Are There?

      Although often pictured as hearts, lockets can be many different shapes. This is part of what makes them personal pieces of jewelry. 
      If you are looking for a classic, timeless piece, a heart, oval, or round-shaped locket is the way to go. These shapes go with either casual or formal attire and will always add to the right outfit. With these three shapes, you can find many different pictures that will fit properly. The heart shape can also signify love, which makes it perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift or an Anniversary.

      You can fill a book-shaped locket necklace is a statement with meaning. Books are full of words and inspiration, just like a possible memento in your locket. Although pictures can also go into book lockets, what’s a better way to symbolize the words on the inside? You can wear a book locket with casual outfits and can also come in different colors – not only silver and gold. This is a perfect shape for booklovers or those who live by meaningful words and quotes. 

      What Are the Various Locket Jewelry Materials?

      Antique locket jewelry is usually made from brass, ebony, and gold fill. Many antique lockets hold sentimental value to a family. A lot of times, they have been around for many generations. These locket necklaces have more complex designs than the ones we see today. Antique jewelry can be expensive and cost you a lot. These pieces are handmade and older than 100 years old. Since antique jewelry for sale is pre-owned, it can cost less than some lockets today.

      How to Tell if the Locket is Antique?

      To find out if a locket is antique, there are a few different methods that you can use. The first is to look for a jewelry stamp. This may say the type of material that was used, the year it was made, where it came from, and who manufactured it. This can be an indicator of how only the jewelry is and if it was made of quality material.

      Another way to check is to try and identify specific materials and see what year they can be dated back. If you see Camphor Glass, you can be assured that the piece was made during the latter end of the 1800s and so on. If palladium was used, it’s likely the jewelry was not made until the 1930s.

      Trying to see if you can figure out the jewelry style is also crucial. The Georgian style was around from 1700 to 1830 and has designs, yellow gold, and gemstones of many colors. These pieces will often be pricey. The Art Nouveau style was produced from 1890 to 1910 and draws inspiration from nature. These pieces will have muted and natural colors along with curves and lengthy lines.

      Lastly, if you can tell how or where the piece was manufactured, you may have some insight into its age. If your piece has hand engraving, this is a sign that it was made anytime from the 1900s on.

      These methods take lots of researching and scoping out - but it is a great way to see if your locket is an antique! Also, if there is any proof from it being handed down through generations of your family, that's a good thing. You can even it back to the source!

      Modern locket jewelry contains materials such as gold tone, sterling silver, and silver-tone. Because of the variety of materials, lockets are very affordable and easy to find. They are also very sturdy and able to hold up well when taken care of. A modern-day locket is a perfect way to start a tradition with your family.

      How to Clean Locket Jewelry?

      Taking care of locket jewelry is important to make sure it lasts and stays in the best possible shape. If you want to maintain locket jewelry you should…

      • Never get lotions, oils, or perfumes on the piece 
      • Take it off before you get in the shower or go swimming
      • Do not wear it every single day
      • Remove jewelry before going to bed, changing clothes, or exercising
      • Make sure you store it correctly and safely 

      Even those who are the best at maintaining their jewelry will still need to clean it from time to time! If you find yourself in that position!

      • Wipe your locket with a jewelry cleaning cloth after each use 
      • Make sure to use proper cleaning methods that are safe for the material your locket is made of! Not all material is the same so it is important to research them
      • Don't treat gold and silver as the same material
      • You can use dish detergent to clean gold and platinum pieces 
      • Use a diluted baking soda mixture to clean silver pieces
      • When you finish cleaning your jewelry, make sure it is completely dried off

        PhotoPictured: Emerald Heart Deco Locket


        So now that you have everything you need to know about a locket, you’re ready to pick it out and start wearing your own. The most important thing to remember about wearing a locket is that you can pick the meaning. You can decide what you want to hold close to you and what it truly means to you. Lockets are highly customizable and the perfect piece of sentimental jewelry. It’s time to bring back lockets, we all have something to keep close to our hearts.

        For more on lockets, read...

              Allie Berloco

              Allie Berloco is a writer for Fortune & Frame. She graduated from Marist University with a double major in Media Studies, TV & Film Production and Communications, Journalism. She's sown here in her official Harry Styles fangirl outfit after seeing him perform live on the Today Show in NYC.