The history of the Hawaiian jewelry can be dated back to the 18th century when Queen Kalpiolani and Princess Lili’uokalani visited the royal court of England. At the ceremonies, Queen Victoria gifted the princess what was to become the first Hawaiian bracelet. The solid gold design was simple with intricate old English lettering, which spelled the princess’ name. The bracelet symbolized the enduring friendship between the two nations. Lili’uokalani was impressed with the style and requested that more should be crafted for other members of her family. Goldsmiths in the land were then commissioned to learn this art of jewelry crafting.
From that point on, the rich opportunities for trade, such as sugar farming and whaling, kept the British interested in the tropical islands. In fact, the relationship between the two countries was positive enough that when Hawaiian Princess Lil’uokalani heard about the death of the British Prince Albert, she commissioned and wore a golden mourning bracelet, too. Little did she know that one seemingly small act would impact Hawaiian culture strongly.
In the 1960s, the iconic Hawaiian heirloom style began to branch out. Today the delicately engraved flowers such as the hibiscus, the Hawaiian flower (which symbolizes a beautiful young woman in Hawaiian culture), plant materials, shells from sea turtles, stainless steel, and words, are included on rings, earrings, and pendants, as well as bracelets. Also, instead of gold as the primary materials, many artisans now use silver, stainless steel, and black epoxy because they are more affordable.
Though Hawaiian jewelry’s are no longer hand crafted as it has always been, you can still find the delicately engraved symbols is pendants, necklaces and bracelets with a unique design and personalization, it is no wonder that this tradition has lasted and grown through the years.