Since the beginning of humankind, death has been memorialized with jewelry. Whether pieces of jewelry were included in the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh or worn by a queen after her king has died, it’s a natural extension of mourning.
More specifically, mourning jewelry has been around since at least the 16th century. It’s most closely associated with the Victorian era, worn by Queen Victoria and her court, after the death of England’s Prince Albert.
Hairwork was a common practice when creating mourning jewelry. Necklaces, braclets, rings and brooches often contained woven human hair (not necessarily from the deceased interestingly enough. Hair was often imported into the UK for mourning jewelry).
Source: Collector’s Weekly