The Allure of Fragrant Jewelry

By Lisa Hoffman

Modern fragrance lovers embrace scent as a form of self-expression, but there was a time in the history of perfume when scent was worn as a form of aromatherapy cloaked in the splendor of ornament.
Before science could explain why certain aromas had the ability to soothe, energize, and inspire, many were of the mind that particular scents could function as olfactory talismans of well-being and protection. From this notion splendid filigree and bejeweled creations were born.
Fragrant jewelry was a luxury designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. Solid perfumed unguents filled the segmented chambers of 17th century pomanders made of precious metals. Designs varied, but many were engraved and some were intricately encrusted with jewels. The visual pleasure offered by a necklace with a decorative perfumed dome resting near the heart had several benefits; it was portable, fragrance could be applied as needed and admirers could find also find comfort in its presence.
Fragrant jewelry also took the form of earrings, lockets, bracelets and rings, each designed with portability in mind. In time, these customizable methods of enjoying scent were replaced with liquid perfume packaged in crafted glass bottles. Today, fragrant jewelry’s influence can be found in scented candles and potpourri which are used to aromatize environments and create a sense of well-being. Both hearken back to the days when unguents, herbs, dried flowers and resins filled the aromatic chambers of fragrant jewelry, a method of self-perfuming that was the pinnacle of luxury in its time.

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