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One in five women secretly hoard keepsakes from past relationships

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One in five women secretly hoards keepsakes from a previous relationship, it emerged today. The study unearthed a common trend for hiding mementos from past lovers away from a current partner, with the list including cherished photos, ticket stubs and letters, to jewellery – and even old engagement rings.

As many as 61% of respondents said they had a private store of memories stashed away –  but fears their partner wouldn’t understand them holding onto something from another man were the most common reason many kept the items in secret.

The research of 2,000 people, commissioned by The Museum of London, found cuddly toys, dried flowers and cards were among other items regularly hoarded.

The findings also show that men are sentimental beings too – with a quarter of the men studied admitting keeping a birthday card from a previous partner.

Beatrice Behlen, the Museum of London‘s Senior Curator, said:

”This study confirms just how much we relate emotions to objects.

”We seem to need tangible proof that something actually happened, maybe even more so when we have lost contact with the other person involved.

”It is not surprising that jewellery appears high up on the keepsake list as it is often used to convey feelings or to mark a significant stage in a relationship. From Roman carved gemstones commemorating a betrothal, to medieval pewter heart badges and Elizabethan ‘gimmel’ or ‘twin’ rings given as tokens of goodwill during courtship – this is an act that has been prevalent across the ages.”

The study also found a fifth of women have a piece of jewellery given to them from a past relationship that they still wear when with their new partner.

In these instances half of the women say their partner is unaware that what they’re wearing was given to them by another man.

While one in six women have even held on to an engagement ring from a previous relationship.

A quarter of women describe themselves as a ‘hoarder’ and find it difficult to part with anything they’ve held dear; while one in six says they have an obsession with jewellery.

Nearly half of the women studied said that the emotion and story behind a piece of jewellery was the most important thing about it.

In fact, seven in ten women said the value of a piece of jewellery didn’t have a bearing on how much they treasured it.

But should they discover their partner to be keeping mementos from a previous relationship, three in ten would question him intently on why he needed to keep such items.

When it comes to squirrelling secret mementos away from a partner, women are most likely to trust a jewellery box their partner doesn’t ever look in, while stashing in a draw or shoe box was also common.

The average woman studied had nine items of jewellery which they keep stored away but never wear – mainly because of sentimental value or because the piece looks outdated.

And while women on average have over £1,000 worth of jewellery, more than half of that (£533) never sees the light of day.

The Museum of London‘s Beatrice Behlen said:

”Many of us will have ‘emotional objects’ that remind us of people and periods in our life. Some are stashed away and others we might carry with us every day.

”Take for example the Cheapside Hoard – the world’s largest and most exquisite cache of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery – and one of the Museum of London’s own hidden gems.

”Although we might not yet know all the secrets of the hoard, now known to be a jeweller’s stock-in-trade, we can certainly connect with the objects. And not just because of the craftsmanship each jewel reveals, but because we can imagine them being given as tokens of love and affection.”


1. Photos
2. Birthday cards
3. Ring
4. Piece of jewellery
5. Cuddly toys
6. Valentine’s Day cards
7. Necklace
8. CD’s/ playlists
9. Earrings
10. Engagement ring
11. Watch
12. Tickets to gigs/concerts
13. Other
14. Jumper/ item of clothing
15. Programmes/ mementos from venues
16. DVD’s
17. Cinema tickets
18. Underwear they bought you as a gift
19. Handbags
20. Dried flowers