By Claire Roberts
Acrostic jewellery is such a romantic gesture, it's no surprise the sentimental Victorians fell for the idea first.
Sparkling love letters, spelled out in different gemstones - the first letters of which correspond with the letters of the alphabet - acrostic jewels were the ultimate token of affection in Victorian England. But the tradition is believed to date back much further - to the turn of the 19th century and Napoleon-era France, when the jewellery house Mellerio dits Meller conceived the idea of setting gemstones into jewellery to spell out words. Some of the most famous acrostic jewels dating from that era were created by the esteemed jewellery house Chaumet for Napoleon's first and second wives, Empress Joséphine and Empress Marie-Louise.
The preferred terms of endearment for the Victorians seem rather old-fashioned now - 'dearest' and 'regards' - but the alphabet of gems is still going strong. Reinvigorating the fashion for acrostic jewels is Jessica McCormack, who recently opened 7 Carlos Place in Mayfair, London, which sets the benchmark for luxury jewellery shopping. On the second floor of this impeccably stylish townhouse, cupfuls of multi-coloured gems sparkle in the sunlight, inspiring visitors to create a ring encoded with a secret message using the iPad app developed especially for this purpose. McCormack has curated an alphabet of gemstones, from amethyst through to zoisite, which means the possibilities are, literally, endless.
In the spirit of its historic 19th-century acrostic bracelets, Chaumet's ABC collection comprises jewels that spell out messages of love in gemstones, including an 'amour' bracelet in amethyst, morganite, opal, uvite and rhodolite. The French jeweller also offers an exclusive service in store that allows you to compose your own message using the 26 stones in the Chaumet alphabet.
Acrostic jewellery may be centuries old, but the idea of sealing your sentiments in stone continues to appeal today. Like a hand-penned love letter, romance never goes out of fashion.
Read more about acrostic jewellery here
During the Napoleonic era, Chaumet created the first acrostic bracelets for Empress Joséphine and Empress Marie-Louise, and it continues the tradition today with the ABC collection.
Chaumet ABC ring in white gold and diamonds, with amethyst, iolite, morganite, emerald and rhodolite spelling out 'aimer'.
A modern take on the love letter, Jessica McCormack has curated an alphabet of precious gemstones, from amethyst to zoisite, which can be set into rings to spell out the word of your choice.
This Chaumet ABC bracelet spells out 'amour' in colourful amethyst, morganite, opal, uvite and rhodolite gemstones.
These Chaumet ABC earrings in yellow gold spell out 'toi et moi' in pink tourmaline, fire opals, Iolites and morganite.
Spell out a longer message using the 26 stones in the Chaumet alphabet in a made-to-order ABC sautoir necklace.
Jessica McCormack's new Love Letters collection derives from Victorian-era acrostic rings - engagement rings that spelled out hidden messages in coloured gemstones, each of which represented a letter of the alphabet.