It doesn’t take one long to realize that the people written about in Jane Austen novels spoke differently than we do today. The pages of her books are filled with phrases like, “I hold him in high esteem,” or “I have a great regard for him.” Now, if you’re under 20, it’s the equivalent of exclaiming, “he’s hot!” If you’re 35-ish or older, you know that what Jane is talking about is love.
The word “Regard” was so synonymous with “love” in ages past that you will find antique jewelry that spelled out the word!
This example of sentimental jewelry was popular through the Georgian and Victorian periods. Rings, pendants and pins often contained small stones which, when viewed as an acronym, would spell little “sweet nothings.” The idea was to arrange stones in such a way that when you used the first letter of each stone in the sequence, the letters would spell the word “REGARD.” For this to work, one would have a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond set in a row or circle from left to right. Now take the first letter of each stone, “r” for ruby, “e” for the emerald, “g” for garnet and so on. In that way, the first letter of each stone spells the word “regard.” So Jane Austen!
I’ve seen these mostly as rings, but once in while examples pop up on other pieces of jewelry. These rings read from the middle out: diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby ,emerald, sapphire, topaz. In this case, the first letter of each stone spells “Dearest.”
Empress Marie Louise had three acrostic bracelets that spell out her and Napoleon’s names along with their dates of birth and marriage. Don’t ask me how gemstones spell out a date, I don’t know! It’s a little mystery, but one certianly worth solving.