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parlAmore, united in loving memory

Helena van Essen on her inspiration

Helena van Essen, visual artist based in Amsterdam. Designer of this personal as well as universal mourning jewellery. | Helena van Essen©Helena van Essen lives and works in Amsterdam as an artist and designer of funerary monuments. She developed the parlAmore Mourning Button because events in her immediate surroundings made her realise that there is nothing to show that someone is mourning nowadays.

Helena: ‘That thought inspired me to come up with a contemporary mourning symbol that, unlike the familiar mourning band, should be personal and universal. But how? At a certain point, I looked at just a button on just a shirt and, as if by a flash, I suddenly saw: a button, thát’s what I have to use.’


‘Such a button has been touched so often by the deceased that it forms a tangible memory of him or her, especially if it is a button from an item of clothing that has a special meaning for you as the next-of-kin: your mother’s Sunday dress, your father’s favourite shirt, you name it. What also appeals to me is that a button is available for several next of kin.’

Ode to life

‘I see the Mourning Button, my first piece of mourning jewellery, as an ode to the life of the deceased loved one. The reason for wearing it indeed is a sad one, but the message is that you let your heart speak out of love for your loved one, parlAmore. With good reason, I have chosen ‘United in loving memory’ as my motto.’

More jewellery

‘The positive response to the Mourning Button inspired me to design two more pieces of mourning jewellery, one of which, the Ash Cabochon, can be worn with a little bit of ash, some soil or a lock of hair. Finally, the Mourning Pin (not to be confused with the Mourning Button) is a simple mourning symbol that, worn with a portrait of the deceased, is very suitable as an identifying mark for the next of kin during the funeral ceremony.’