9 Antique Silver Book Locket Styles to Cherish

silver book locket on heart chain

An antique silver book locket is a distinctive pendant, quite different from modern lockets with simple snap closures and room for only two tiny photos.

What Is a Book Locket?

A book locket is a style of locket that actually has leaves like the pages of a book that open to display more than just one or two pictures. Many book lockets, in fact, can hold six or eight pictures at once. The lockets may operate by having inner pages turn just like a book on one central hinge, or they may fold out accordion-style either from the side or the top. Whatever the orientation, book lockets tell a story in pictures that are close to the wearer's heart.

Types of Antique Silver Book Locket Designs

When people imagine a book locket, they frequently picture a rectangular design shaped very much like a real book. While rectangular styles are indeed very popular, because of the heavy Victorian influence of the late 1800s to early 1900s, there are actually many different styles of book lockets. Popular designs may include:

  • Cover etchings, especially of romantic designs such as flowers and leaves or ornate monograms, crosses, and initials.
  • Delicate clasps that swivel and latch securely rather than simply snap closed.
  • Filigree, milgrain, and other textural details on the locket casing as well as minute details on each inner frame.
  • Cropped corners for added distinction without sacrificing the convenience of a rectangular style.
  • Vintage jewels on the cover such as mother of pearl inlays, onyx, or other gemstones or crystals.
  • Cameo designs carved in ivory or other luxurious materials.
  • Alternative shapes, such as ovals, circles, or hearts.
  • Accents in additional types of metal, including yellow and rose gold for bits of color. In the past, silver was preferred for the overall design because it could be worn with any attire and was easier to craft into small, intricate shapes.
  • Sizes ranging from one-half to a full inch tall, and slightly less wide to keep a rectangular shape.

Modern Book Lockets

A true antique silver book locket may cost several hundred dollars. Many individuals interested in lockets may opt for modern designs that are reminiscent of the original, vintage pieces for a fraction of the price - often less than $100. While the basic styles are the same, modern lockets may be lighter because of different types of alloys. The ability of jewelers to use laser etching gives modern book lockets much sharper details in their intricate designs. Some lockets can even be personalized with the photos laser-etched into the metal itself.

Giving a Book Locket as a Gift

accordian style oval book locket
Accordian style oval book locket

Book lockets make remarkable gifts because they are more than just a piece of jewelry, they actually encompass a piece of the wearer's life in the miniscule photographs they hold. Because these designs can hold several photographs, they are often called family lockets and are superb gifts for grandmothers or mothers if they can hold pictures of all the children or grandchildren. Parents may give their daughter a book locket that holds pictures of her childhood as a wedding gift, or it can be a great gift for anyone who enjoys the personal expression of a locket and has a taste for reading.

Book lockets can also hold much more than just small pictures. Each pocket may be deep enough to hold a lock of hair that can be paired with a corresponding picture, or a simple "I love you" note could be included if the locket is meant for that special someone. Portrait artists can even create exquisite painted miniatures of individuals, pets, or favorite works of art to include in a locket.

Because book lockets can be heavy - an antique pieces can be especially weighty because of their thicker metal and generally larger design - many people opt to use them not as necklaces but as key rings, brooches, or bracelet charms instead. Since the locket can be removed from its chain, either of those possibilities is feasible, but care should be taken that an antique locket will not be damaged if used in a new way.

Finding Vintage Lockets

Antique jewelry can be difficult to find, but because of the personal connection many book lockets have, they are popular family heirlooms and often turn up at estate sales or antique jewelry showrooms. Modern reproductions and contemporary designs can be found in many places, including specialty jewelry retailers and online jewelry stores such as:

An Heirloom Worth Cherishing

An antique silver book locket is a priceless artifact not only of another age, but also of the lives it contains in treasured pictures worn close to the heart. If you're lucky enough to become the owner of one of these lockets, cherish it and pass it along to your family's next generation.

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9 Antique Silver Book Locket Styles to Cherish