As a collector of vintage and antique jewelry, one of the motifs you will most often find (and in many different forms) is the Buckle or Garter. In Victorian jewelry, garters can be found as the frame on a cameo brooch or enameled onto the cover design of a locket. Victorians also loved wearing ring bands in the shape of garters. These rings were often given as romantic gifts. Brooches were made to look like buckles that attached to nothing. Perhaps the most popular use of the buckle motif was the Buckle bangle bracelet. These were made in solid gold or silver as well as plated metal. The buckles functioned as the clasp of the bracelet, and could often adjust in tightness, much like a real belt.
The garter as a symbol represents loyalty, protection, and strength. As a symbol of mourning, the garter holds the memory of a loved one close. It was used as a romantic symbol for the same qualities.
This motif was said to derive from the Royal Order of the Garter. This was an order of Chivalry founded by King Edward III in 1348 to strengthen military leadership. It was considered the highest honor a British Monarch can bestow. Members of the Order wore a blue garter buckled above their knee. Queen Victoria took a more modest approach and wore her garter on her arm instead. This started the garter motif as a fashionable jewelry trend.
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