Raising money and volunteering for charitable causes is a very important part of being a freemason. Sometimes they form their own charity to look after their members, while also giving to their local communities too. This jewel from Zambia is from that Grand Lodge's charity.
Millions of pounds are raised and millions of hours are worked each year by freemasons. This modern charity jewel from The Order of Women Freemasons in the UK is worn in recognition of charitable acts.
Freemasons come together during a 'festival' at least once a year to raise money for charity. It's a tradition started in the 1700s and continues today everywhere you find a lodge.
A freemason who helps organise a festival is given a Steward jewel to recognise their service.
Pride of place
Many districts and provinces are proud of their traditions in raising funds for worthy causes. This jewel is for a festival in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, a charity that helps freemasons and their families in need of care and support.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, commemorative jewel (1897)Museum of Freemasonry
Several members of the British Royal family have been prominent freemasons including Grand Masters. They've been patrons for all the major charities. Jewels commemorating important dates have been issued like this locket from 1897.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (Royal), commemorative jewel (1897)Museum of Freemasonry
Commemorative jewels were often produced for a special event. Royal patrons were given expensive versions. This example has a double photographic portrait of Queen Victoria and her son, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales.
Photography was new and considered a luxury in the 1890s. The Prince of Wales was Grand Master until he became King Edward VII in 1901. He wears his freemason regalia in the portrait.
Regular members were given the same locket jewel, but made from cheaper materials like a photographic print. More expensive materials like the ceramic version were given to VIPs like the Duke of Connaught.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution commemorative jewel (1897) by United Grand Lodge of EnglandMuseum of Freemasonry
Installation of the Grand Master, commemorative jewel (1875)Museum of Freemasonry
Other special events recognised with jewels include the installation of a new Grand Master. This jewel was made for Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, when he was installed in 1874.
The ribbon is yellow and blue because he was initiated into freemasonry in the Royal Palace at Stockholm, by Charles XV, King of Sweden and Norway in 1868.
Royal Masonic Institution for Girls (Comparison), centenary jewels (1888)Museum of Freemasonry
Here we can compare two jewels celebrating the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls. The A and E stand for Albert Edward, complete with Prince of Wales insignia. The surrounding C is Roman numeral for 100. Can you guess which one a prince owned?
Distinguished Service jewel (1980)Museum of Freemasonry
You don't have to be a duke or a prince to be recognised. This is a modern Distinguished Service Award from Japan.
Dedicated to Japanese freemason, M. W. Bro. Takashi Komatsu, it was awarded to C. Haffner.
The back shows that the Japanese Grand Lodge was formed in 1957. Note the Master's square along with the compass, Senior Warden's level and Junior Warden's plumb line surrounding Mount Fuji. The gripped hands always represent friendship.