Pomanders and Vinaigrettes.

During the Renaissance, population in the cities grew and so did human waste. There were no sewer systems or garbage facilities. Waste and garbage was simply dumped where ever there was space. With so many people and animals living in such a tight space, the smell was overwhelming. To ward off these offending odors, jewelry-makers invented clever ways for middle and upper class to carry small containers holding various fragrances. The purpose of these devices wasn't only to perfume the air around one; at that time, diseases like the plague were thought to spread through infected air, so perfumes were believed to offer protection from contagion. Scent-filled containers like pomanders and vinaigrettes offered relief from these putrid smells, and their aromas lasted much longer than perfume that was applied to the body.

Named after the French phrase “pomme d’ambre” (meaning “apple of amber”), the pomander was a small round charm that could be filled with a beautiful fragrance like musk, ambergris, lavender, and rose. These pendants were modeled after the original pomanders, which were citrus fruits studded with aromatic herbs like cloves. These were worn on chains from the neck or dangled from a chatelaine from the waist or from a bracelet. Pomanders were typically made from precious metals, and were decorated with engraving, enameling, and gemstones.

In the late 16th century, containers known as pouncet boxes, or essence boxes were popular among the British royal court. These flat, circular boxes, made of gold or silver held sponges or pieces of fabric soaked in vinegar or perfumes whose smell escaped through the box’s perforated lid. Eventually, as chemists developed more powerful vinegars and concentrated essential oils, the size of these boxes was reduced and they became widely known as “vinaigrettes” by the 1780s. Like pomanders before them, these containers were often worn on a chain, with some resembling tiny perfume bottles.

Fortunately, we don’t have to protect ourselves against protruding smells and mountains of disease causing garbage anymore.

Nowadays we are facing a new challenge; today’s over- and misuse of antibiotics and stress related diseases. The antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal effects of Essential Oils have been scientifically proven. EO are very volatile and dispersing them in the air is easy. Inhaling helps to relieve respiratory diseases and ailments and did you know that certain aroma’s can change your mood?

Now these beautiful pomanders and vinaigrettes are useful again and in the form of aromatherapy jewelry.