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Literary Jewelry in Famous Novels (And 6 Ways to Find Book-Inspired Jewelry)

Written by Anna Currell
September 15, 2023

Novels and jewelry have both been used as a means of expression for centuries. These two artforms may seem worlds apart, but they both involve imagination and self-expression traced across history. Jewelry and literature are both representations of the human experience, giving us insight into distinct eras of culture throughout time. There’s also plenty of crossover to study; jewelry often plays an important symbolic role in novels, depicting meaningful themes and even advancing the plot. Let’s explore the role of literary jewelry in famous novels and discuss how book lovers can find jewelry inspired by their favorite texts. 

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The Symbolic Role of Jewelry in Famous Novels

Authors often use jewelry as a literary device to represent abstract concepts, characterize personalities, and build symbolic significance without heavy-handed explanation. Paying attention to how jewelry is described and used in literature can provide insight into core themes and messages — for example, if a character is described to be dripping in diamond jewelry, this might be the author’s way of indicating her wealth and social status. Or if two star-crossed lovers exchange locket necklaces, it might symbolize that although these characters can’t be together, they’ll think of each other often. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous examples of symbolic literary jewelry in novels.

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The One Ring from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

The One Ring, a seductive gold ring in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, represents power, evil, and temptation. Forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, the ring contains part of his essence and gives its wearer invisibility and control over others. As it slowly corrupts its various owners, the ring becomes a major driving force behind protagonist Frodo's epic quest to reach the fires of Mount Doom, the only place it can be destroyed. Throughout the fantastical trilogy, the sinister ring embodies the novel's themes of morality, the corrupting influence of power, and the ability of evil to spread. The ring's parasitic nature accentuates how greed and a lust for power can transform even the most pure-hearted, as we see with the once-noble Gollum. Ultimately, Tolkien uses the iconic One Ring and its journey from Sauron to Frodo to explore the universal struggle between good and evil.

Daisy Buchanan’s pearl necklace in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the extravagant $350,000 pearl necklace given to Daisy Buchanan by her wealthy husband Tom represents the excessive opulence and hollow decadence of Jazz Age socialites. In today’s economy, that necklace would be valued at over $4.7 million. The lavish gift epitomizes the spending and materialism of 1920s high society. Throughout the novel, the way various characters interact with the necklace symbolizes their relationship to wealth and its role in marriage. When Daisy flippantly throws the necklace aside, she indicates a preference for love over money — and points to her feelings for another character (no spoilers here) — despite having married the affluent Tom for status and comfort. Ultimately, the pearl necklace highlights the pervasive yet unfulfilling materialism that plagues the wealthy characters in Fitzgerald's seminal novel. 

The silver mockingjay pin in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games

In Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy, the mockingjay pin that protagonist Katniss Everdeen wears evolves into a symbol of unity and an icon of the rebellion against the totalitarian Capitol regime. The mockingjay, a hybrid bird that represents the Capitol's failure to control the masses, inspires resistance in the oppressed districts. When Katniss wears the pin during the Games, its message of dissent spreads widely. Eventually, the mockingjay evolves into an emblem of revolution against tyranny and social injustice. The pin's meaning illustrates how even a small act of hope and defiance can ignite a broader movement for freedom and change. Collins uses the mockingjay motif throughout the books in the series to emphasize the power of solidarity, rebellion, and belief in a just cause.

How to Find Book-Inspired Literary Jewelry to Wear

If you’re a bookworm and want to celebrate your favorite stories and characters in your accessories, literary jewelry can make a great treat for yourself — or a thoughtful gift for a fellow bookworm pal. There are a lot of creative ways to find jewelry based on books, characters, and literary themes. Here are just a few to inspire you:

  1. Search for engraved jewelry featuring meaningful quotes, passages, or phrases relating to books. You can find literary engravings on necklaces, cuff bracelets, and rings online or in boutique shops, and sometimes even in bookstores.
  2. Look for pendants or charms shaped like objects with symbolic significance from novels. For instance, you can find lightning bolt stud earrings inspired by the Harry Potter series, a duck pendant necklace to represent The Catcher in the Rye, or any other creative reference that reminds you of your favorite book.
  3. Find a locket in the shape of a book, and place your favorite quote on a piece of paper inside the locket. This gives you the opportunity to constantly customize your jewelry, since you can update whatever you keep inside the locket with your latest favorite phrase or passage.
  4. Did you know there are designers that make jewelry made from actual pages of your favorite books? You can find cuffs, necklaces, and rings that are shaped from countless pages folded and glued together, essentially repurposing used books into wearable art.
  5. Search platforms like Etsy for handmade literary jewelry featuring themes from your favorite books; there’s no limit to the creativity on artist-focused sites like these and you’ll likely be shopping from someone who’s as much of a fan as you are!

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Wearing book-inspired literary jewelry allows readers to display their passions, carry cherished stories close to their hearts, and find community with fellow book lovers who recognize the symbols and themes. With so many creative options out there, you're sure to find ways to showcase your literary style. And if you can’t find the perfect piece in the world, you can always create it yourself. Work with Quick Jewelry Repairs’ bespoke jewelry experts to create your own literary jewelry from scratch, taking inspiration from your favorite novel and turning it into one-of-a-kind art you can wear.

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