Antique: Silver Heart Pendant, 18th c. Vinaigrette with Love Birds


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Our latest discovery - two Danish heart vinaigrettes from the 18th century. These antique symbols of love are now coveted statement pendants. Made of silver and hand engraved, this one depicts a woman with a bird perched on her hand on one side. On the other is a woman tending to a lamb. Swirling foliage and plumes surround both scenes.

Wear this antique silver heart pendant dangling from a black velvet or grosgrain ribbon or have us add a silver bail and wear it with an antique guard chain or Albert watch chain (see our collection). The perfect sentimental present for a birthday or Valentine's Day. Create a family heirloom by making it a part of your proposal or presenting it to your bride on your wedding day.

The Danish Vinaigrette or Hovedvandsæg

Throughout the ages, these personal scent containers have gone by a variety of names (pomanders, vinaigrettes, spice boxes, perfume flacons ...) and have been used for a variety of purposes from amulet to smelling salts. The Danes call them Hovedvandsæg. Worn on a chain or held in the hand or pocket, they came in many shapes and were often given as an engagement present from the groom-to-be to his future bride.

Similar to the English vinaigrette, the hinged compartment contained a sponge soaked in an aromatic liquid, usually vinegar infused with spices (marjoram, lavendula, lilieconval, sage, clove, cardamom, rose essence, or cinnamon) and was held to the nose for restorative purposes.

Hovedvandsægs from this period (18th c.) with romantic themes are becoming harder to find.

Dimensions & Details

  • From crown to tip the piece is 2.5 inches / or 63 mm tall. It is 1.7 inches or 44 mm wide. The heart has a hinged top.
  • The purity of 18th Danish silver from the18th century is normally minimum of 826/1000. The piece tests as silver.


  • Denmark.

Period & Hallmarks

  • 18th c.


  • It is in good antique condition.There are surface scratches, little dints and wear as one would expect to see in a piece of this age, but there is no damage or dents. If you like your silver to have a high polish and less patina, it can be achieved.

The Symbolism

This is the first heart that we have seen (outside of a book) that has two birds perched on top. The birds, possibly turtle doves, like swallows were often used to symbolize loyalty as they choose one mate for life. The heart and love birds together convey a message of love and loyalty.

If you are interested in reading more about the jewelry terms or decorative periods referenced throughout our site, visit our Resources section for additional information.

Find out how to care for your collection of antique and modern jewels: visit our Jewelry Care page to get advice on maintaining and storing your treasured pieces.

Outside of the U.S.? Please contact us for a shipping quote.

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