Contrary to the notion that hair jewellery is ‘creepy’ because it involves cutting hair from a dead person, it was actually impossible to weave hair from a head that wasn’t alive anymore because it would lose its flexibility almost instantly. For any jewellery that was made of hair, as opposed to a locket that carried hair inside, the hair had to come from a living and breathing body; so it clearly wasn’t as macabre a practice as it is sometimes made out to be.
As the hair jewellery trend manifested and the pressure in turnover time increased, some hair artists would, unbeknownst to the client, use artificial hair when the given loved one’s hair was insufficient in amount, or difficult to work with in texture. To avoid these kinds of schemes, women started braiding and weaving the hair jewellery at home.
Ladies’ magazines started publishing step-by-step manuals and patterns for homemade hair jewellery and women wove their own hair designs only bringing it to a jeweller or hair artist to get the finishing gold clasps inserted. But as Rudoe explains to me: “It became so much of a trend, emotional attachment or not, that those who really wanted it weren’t necessarily concerned about whose hair it was.” And since many of the hair artists were actually wig makers who created hair jewellery as a side hustle, access to shinier or sturdier hair was a given.