The Scottish gift of love that’s ideal for Valentine’s day

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Believe it or not – flowers, teddies and chocolates are not the traditional gifts of love in Scotland.

From the 16th century Scotsmen have chosen to give their lovely ladies Luckenbooths. These pieces are crafted in gold or silver and set with Scottish gemstones. They contain one or two hearts surrounded by a crown and are known as witches’ brooches or Queen Mary, since the overlapping hearts mimic the tragic queen’s initial M.

In the past decade Luckenbooths have once again become a highly desirable gift of love, as well as a cherished collectors’ item, 

Leading Edinburgh jeweller Alistir Wood Tait is a specialist in Scottish jewellery and said Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to treat your loved one to a Luckenbooth.

He said: “Luckenbooths have been used for over 500 years as a way for partners to express their feelings of love. Being traditionally Scottish means they are even more romantic than perhaps a diamond.

“It is the perfect gift for someone who craves giving their wife or girlfriend something different from the usual round of chocolates and teddies every February 14.”

At his Rose Street shop, the leading gemmologist has a range of modern and antique Luckenbooths, with prices to suit most pockets.

Ranging from the exquisite antique 9ct golf brooch set with pearls and diamonds at £585 to a silver brooch with engraving at £35 and a large silver brooch measuring 7cm by 6cm to the intricate pieces at just a couple of centimetres long – there is a style of Luckenbooth to suit most styles and budgets.Luckenbooths were the first permanent shops for jewellery workers.

These were situated on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, from St Gile’s Cathedral to the Canongate, The term luckenbooth comes from these shops – as they were literally ‘locked-in booths’. Traditionally the Luckenbooth brooch was given to a bride by her groom on their wedding day, and later pinned to the shawl of their first baby to protect it from evil spirits.

By the 18th century they had become a common decorative symbol on Native American dress – and the pieces remain popular worldwide today.Alistir added: “It is not only Scottish people we have visiting the shop interested in giving a traditional piece of Scottish jewellery.”Many tourists are amazed at just how stunning these pieces are and are very interested in their history.”Scotland is unique having such a rich jewellery heritage, unlike the rest of the British Isles which makes these items highly desirable as the gems can only be found in remote areas of the country.”

Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellery is at 116A Rose Street, Edinburgh.

ENDS

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