Saturday, February 12, 2011

Trinket #43 - The Luckenbooth

I spent more time on today's trinket since my very kind mother-in-law gave my husband and me a kid-free day to ourselves. The past few trinkets had to be squeezed in wherever I could manage, so it was nice to work at a slower pace and put a little more effort into this one.

The necklace is made from silver wire, clear glass seed beads, and beautiful tumbled pieces of garnet. As odd as it sounds, I had to stop myself several times while making this to keep from eating the garnets - they look just like pomegranate seeds! At the front and center of this piece is a charm that I've been holding onto for a few years that I wasn't really sure yet what to do with. It's similar to the Irish claddagh, but this, the Scottish version, is called a luckenbooth.

Monica Loreto offers this history of the unusual little talisman:

"During the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries there were two main styles of brooches in Scotland; one was the ring brooch, often with incised decoration, and used to fasten plaids by both men and women. The other brooch was a heart shaped one, often given at weddings and engagements as tokens of love.

From the eighteenth century onwards small plain heart shaped brooches were worn to protect against evil spirits, the evil eye or the attention of the fairies. These are the famous “Luckenbooth Brooches”.

Their names come from “The Luckenbooth or Locking Booths”. These small shops which were in fact very tiny and could be securely locked at night, were a feature of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. These brooches were heart shaped ones surmounted by a crown and usually made of silver.

The first Luckenbooth brooches date from the late XVII century and were very small. This traditional gift was given to a man’s sweetheart on their betrothal but also it was considered a lucky charm, protecting the wearer against evil eyes. Among other powers the Luckenbooth has, was easing the pain at childbirth and ensuring a good flow of breast milk when pinned to a woman’s petticoats near the left thigh. If pinned to the baby’s shawl, it will protect the child from being stolen by fairies.

During the XVIII and XIX centuries the Luckenbooth became larger and more elaborate with inscriptions on the back such as biblical references or the initials of the couple and the date of their betrothal.

From 1850 onwards, the intertwined hearts resembling the letter M; with thistle fleur de lys were used; these came to be called Mary’s Brooches or even Queen Mary’s Brooches. Mary Queen of Scots's husband, Lord Darnley gave her one.

Most Luckenbooth brooches today are in the form of two hearts topped by a crown and are made of silver, though versions of this traditional Scottish brooch can be found in iron and brass. Victorian ones were generally set with garnets. Garnets were thought to have a lucky influence on affairs of the heart and symbolized a lover’s constancy as well as being an emblem of deep friendship. The Victorian versions of the Luckenbooth brooch were decorated with gems of different colours."

The strangest thing for me was learning after I had already completed the necklace about the companionship between the luckenbooth and the garnet!


  1. i love garnets-very pretty piece!

  2. Very beautiful and I love that you used garnets and then found out afterwards that they were used!!!

  3. It's beautiful Beth, you did a fantastic job!