A rose that blooms forever. Sterling silver, Cartier, France, 1990s. Leah Gordon Gallery.
Of the many origin myths of Valentine’s Day, the most popular by far is that of Saint Valentinus, an early Christian saint put to death for performing marriages for young soldiers at a time when it was forbidden. According to one legend, Valentinus himself sent the first “valentine” in the form of a letter to his jailor’s daughter, signed “From Your Valentine,” a form that endures today. Yet it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day became the celebration of romantic love we know it as; ardor made corporeal in the form of flowers, heart-shaped objects, Cupids, and more. Here, we share some favorites of our dealers’ tokens of love in all their varied forms and throughout the ages.
Another undying bouquet. Van Cleef & Arpels Paris pin, platinum with diamonds, rubies & sapphires, France, circa 1940-1950. Clifford Baron Gallery.
Ever a symbol of love and beauty; rose brooch, platinum and gold with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, 1940. Samuel Saidan & Sons.
Gold bangle with silver Cupids, the young god of love, on either side of an antique cushion cut peridot surrounded by rosecut diamonds, American, 19thc.
Meissen porcelain figure of a Cupid turning the wheel of fortune, German, 1890. Robin’s Antiques.
Meissen procelain chariot group of Cupid & Psyche, who is the personification of the soul. Germany, c. 1880. Alexander’s Antiques.
Greek terracotta figure of Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself, Greece, 4thc BC. Palmyra Heritage.
A frame for love; Tiffany heart-shaped frame, silver gilt, American, 1869-1891. Alter Silver Gallery.
The eternal dance of courtship: pair of beech wood and ivory figures of lovers, mounted on ebony plinths, France, 1880. Alexander’s Antiques.
The collection of poems that marked the beginning of the English Romantic period: First Edition of Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge, contemporary full leather, UK, 1800. Manhattan Rare Book Co.
The perfect silver-gilt heart-shaped box for Valentine bonbons. America, c. 1900. Rosalie Clauson Antiques.
Upon the illicit marriage of the future King George IV of England to a Catholic widow, it is said the two exchanged the first lover’s eye brooches, which became a Georgian fashion. Gold with coral & ivory, England, c. 1820-25. Leah Gordon Gallery.
A testament to love departed: scallop edged mourning brooch, pinchbeck and enamel. Contains hair of the beloved, and inscribed “In Memory Of”, possibly American, c. 1880-1890. Clifford Baron Gallery.
Tiffany “Love & Kisses” necklace by Paloma Picasso, daughter of Pablo Picasso, a man of many lovers himself. 18k gold with various stones, Italy, 1980s. Gallery 47.