11 February 2016

St Valentine's Day

Myths and legends surrounding this well-known day of romance and love are numerous, and these are surprisingly not always of the romantic kind. It first originated from a liturgical celebration involving one or several of the early Christian saints, all by the name of Valentinus or Valentine.

Many stories were invented surrounding these various Valentines, but one of the more popular ones is the story of St Valentine of Rome, who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians. According to the legend, while in prison he healed and befriended the daughter of his jailer, later sending her a letter of farewell before his execution signing it "Your Valentine".

But it was not until the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished, that the day would be connected to the declaration of romantic love. The more modern traditions that we know and see today would not take shape until a few more hundred years later. Lovers expressing their affection for each other by presenting different gifts, such as flowers, jewellery and greeting cards, so called "valentines", would not be seen until this tradition's arrival in England during the 18th century.

Regardless of whether you are a true romantic or the more cool-headed type, St Valentine's Day is here and if you're still on the look out for a gift, Grays has a wonderful selection of fine jewellery, for men and women, trinkets, glass and silverware and ceramics. If you need that special present engraving, Grays' in-house engravers Bennett & Thorogood will inscribe on to precious metals and a wide variety of objects from gold and silver jewellery, to watches, tankards, napkins and umbrellas.

Doves of peace and love brooch by Chaumet with natural citrine set in 18ct gold. Dated 3rd June 1946, offered by Wimpole Antiques.

A beautiful Claddagh ring (heart-hand ring), offered by the Antique Jewellery Company.

A fine selection of vintage Valentine-inspired items. Ranging from Victorian to contemporary, with a Lea Stein heart brooch and a pair of Butler and Wilson 1980s faux pearl earrings. Offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery. 

Rare, Victorian 18ct gold heart shaped pendant set with a rock crystal inner heart and natural split pearls. It has a pretty bow top set with split pearls and a loop similarly set with pearls. Made circa 1890, offered by the Antique Jewellery Company.

Cartier ring with a platinum set brilliant cut diamond with diamond sides, offered by Anthea AG Antiques.

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