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Ring

mid 17th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

After the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 by the Commonwealth, commemorative jewellery was immediately produced. Locks of the King's hair, painted miniatures and royalist symbols were set into rings, lockets and pendants and worn as a sign of allegiance to the Royalist cause. As wearing such jewellery could be dangerous during the Civil War, many of these objects may have been hidden until the Restoration or produced after the accession of Charles II.

Although some jewels supporting the King were worn during the Commonwealth period, many were produced after the Restoration of 1660. Charles II was vigilant to ensure that his father’s memory was preserved. He was celebrated as King Charles the Martyr and the day of his death was maintained as a national day of ‘fasting and humiliation’. Rings set with the King’s portrait were therefore worn as a sign of allegiance to the new regime and a repudiation of Commonwealth sympathies. After the exile of James II in 1688, political supporters continued to wear these rings to show their support for the restoration of Catholic Stuart rule. Interest in Charles I continued in the 19th century. In 1813, when the coffin of Charles I was discovered in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the Prince Regent, later George IV, had it opened and removed a number of mementoes, including locks of hair which were made into jewellery.

This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled gold with rose-cut diamonds in silver collets
Brief Description
Enamelled gold ring with an oval bezel set with an enamel miniature of King Charles I, with rose-cut diamonds in silver collets, England, mid 17th century
Physical Description
Enamelled gold ring with an oval bezel set with an enamel miniature of King Charles I, with a border of rose-cut diamonds in silver collets. The back of the bezel and hoop are enamelled in black with floral ornament. The shoulders are set with a rose diamond
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.2cm
  • Width: 2cm
  • Depth: 1.1cm
Object history
ex Waterton Collection



Historical significance: A souvenir of the executed King Charles I
Subjects depicted
Summary
After the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 by the Commonwealth, commemorative jewellery was immediately produced. Locks of the King's hair, painted miniatures and royalist symbols were set into rings, lockets and pendants and worn as a sign of allegiance to the Royalist cause. As wearing such jewellery could be dangerous during the Civil War, many of these objects may have been hidden until the Restoration or produced after the accession of Charles II.



Although some jewels supporting the King were worn during the Commonwealth period, many were produced after the Restoration of 1660. Charles II was vigilant to ensure that his father’s memory was preserved. He was celebrated as King Charles the Martyr and the day of his death was maintained as a national day of ‘fasting and humiliation’. Rings set with the King’s portrait were therefore worn as a sign of allegiance to the new regime and a repudiation of Commonwealth sympathies. After the exile of James II in 1688, political supporters continued to wear these rings to show their support for the restoration of Catholic Stuart rule. Interest in Charles I continued in the 19th century. In 1813, when the coffin of Charles I was discovered in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the Prince Regent, later George IV, had it opened and removed a number of mementoes, including locks of hair which were made into jewellery.



This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.
Bibliographic References
  • Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, p. 118, cat. 786
  • A catalogue of the antiquities and works of art exhibited at Ironmongers Hall in the month of May 1861, edited by George Russell French, London 1869, vol ii, p. 502
  • Oman, Charles, British Rings:800-1914, London, 1974, p. 121, cat. 80B
  • Dicks, Sophia, The King’s Blood: Relics of King Charles I, exhibition catalogue, Wartski, London, 2010
Collection
Accession Number
924-1871

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record createdNovember 14, 2005
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