For the military during WWI and WWII, exchanging letters and mementos kept them connected with home; this strengthened relationships while time and distance separated families.  Many of the sentimental items sent home by servicemen have been referred to as sweetheart jewelry. Starting in WWI, young men began the tradition of sending the jewelry home; this custom grew even more popular during WWII.  Some of it was handcrafted in the trenches but much of it was machine-made and sold to soldiers, who then sent it back home.  During World War II, most precious metals were rationed and used to build weapons, tanks, ships, airplanes, and other machinery needed for the Allies’ campaign.  As a result, most of the sweetheart items from this time were made from non-precious or semi-precious materials such as Bakelite, celluloid, wood, mother-of-pearl, shell, ivory, rhinestones, enamel, and cheap, readily available wire.  Though “sweetheart” is the word used to describe the jewelry, not all of it was given to actual sweethearts; indeed it was also given to mothers, sisters, and wives.  (Pieces meant for moms often have the word “mother” incorporated into the designs).

Sweetheart Pins are meant to be worn on a coat lapel or “discreetly” on a dress.  Some are brooches ~

 

img_6711

SWEETHEART BROOCH

 

RCAF POW PIN

RCAF POW BROOCH

 

RCAF BROOCH

RCAF BROOCH

 

RCAF BROOCH

RCAF BROOCH

 

Some are enamelled, like these maple leaf pins ~

MAPLE LEAF PIN

MAPLE LEAF PIN

 

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

 

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

 

Others have the maple leaf as an integral part of the design ~

 

RCAF V (VICTORY) PIN

RCAF V (VICTORY) PIN

 

rcaf-maple-leaf-pin-10-00

 

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

RCAF MAPLE LEAF PIN

 

 

Of course, wings indicating the Air Force were the centrepiece ~

 

RCAF STERLING WINGS

RCAF STERLING WINGS

 

efts-rcaf

 

RCAF FLIGHT ENGINEER

RCAF FLIGHT ENGINEER

 

rcaf-2-piece

RCAF PIN

 

Lockets were made ~

RCAF SWEETHEART LOCKET

RCAF SWEETHEART LOCKET

 

Sometimes the sweetheart jewelry came in sets ~

img_6746

 

This beautiful set belonged to the mom of our Collections Management Chairman, Mel.  It was a gift to her from his Dad during WWII.  Notice the wedge cap!

 

 

 

 

And sometimes a handkerchief was given ~

img_6693

HANDKERCHIEF

 

And did you know that there were also sweetheart pincushions?  This is First World War period ‘sweetheart’ pin cushion that was possibly commercially produced as a kit for convalescing and disabled soldiers as well as civilians. (courtesy Imperial War Museums)

sweet heart pin cushion (EPH 4231) A First World War period 'sweetheart' pin cushion that was possibly commercially produced as a kit for convalescing and disabled soldiers as well as civilians. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30083766

SWEETHEART PINCUSHION

 

** In our Museum nothing gets accomplished without a sense of TEAM.  This is true of this website posting as well.  Thank you, Mel, Deb, and David for your support; you all gave so willingly!