Heart-Shaped History

Heart-Shaped History

In the Shape of a Heart

The heart is my absolute favorite shape and symbol. I have all kinds of clothing and home décor adorned in hearts and my engagement ring is a heart-shaped diamond solitaire. I adore its cute, rounded form and the sentiment of love it represents. Why does the heart, a vital muscle in our chest, represent love when emotions come from the brain?

It could be that early man put undue emphasis on the heart. When ancient Egyptians were preparing to mummify a body, they tossed out the brain but preserved the heart in a special jar. Both Greek philosopher Aristotle and 2nd century father of medicine Galen believed the heart was the center of the soul. Their reasoning was that this organ that churns blood throughout the entire body must also affect our emotions.

By the early 17th century, as physicians came to better understand the circulatory system, the idea of the heart being at the center of emotions began to wane in the scientific community. However, writers from Shakespeare to Dante perpetuated the link between the heart and love in their works, very much maintaining its romantic symbolism in Western society.

The first known image of a heart used as a symbol of love is in a French manuscript from the 1250’s, Roman de la poire, in which a young man holds up his heart to his lady love.

Beginning in the late 1600’s, the Catholic Church’s frequent depiction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also helped popularize the heart symbol.

Another interesting question is why the heart image as we’ve come to know it varies significantly from what the organ actually looks like? Well, the adorable cleft-divided hump graphic is far more visually appealing than the bloody muscle. But how did it come to be?

One theory places the origin of the heart shape with the silphium plant. Now extinct, this herb was widely used by ancient Greeks and Romans as an aphrodisiac and form of birth control. The silphium’s seed closely resembled our modern heart symbol. Because of the herb’s associations with love and sex, it’s speculated that it helped popularize the motif. Also, worth considering, is that two anatomical hearts placed together form a representation of the heart symbol. Not sure if that is a romantic or gory explanation!

Whatever the origin, if you love the shape of a heart, you’ll want to explore some of these exquisite designs in our From the Heart collection.

Sterling Silver Couples Name Heart Pendant - Tell your special person you “heart” them with this unique pendant!

Sterling Silver Heart Monogram Pendant – Display your monogram in this gorgeous Sterling heart.

14K Gold over Sterling Couples Birthstone Heart Diamond Accent Ring - Celebrate your love with this couple’s birthstone ring that includes a Genuine Diamond accent.

Bold Name Wrapped Iridescent Heart Necklace – Wrap your name around this stunning iridescent heart pendant.

Abalone Pearl Heart Initial Necklace – Enjoy the peaceful vibe offered by the tranquil Abalone Pearl. Fashioned into a heart shape and accented with a heart charm featuring an engraved initial.

From the Heart Initial Heart Necklace – A personalized initial dangles inside of this stylish heart pendant.

Nameplate Medium Heart Hoop Earrings – Add your name to these fun heart hoops!

Script Name and Open Heart Bypass Ring – This stylish ring pairs a personalized name in flowing script above an open heart.

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