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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled and engraved gold

  • Museum number:

    909-1888

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

From the early seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, testators left money in their wills to have rings with commemorative inscriptions made and distributed to their friends and families. Simple bands enamelled with the name and life dates of the deceased were frequently made, sometimes set with a gemstone or a bezel set with a rock crystal covering a symbol such as a coffin or initials in gold wire. In the later 18th century, rings followed neo-classical designs, their oval bezels often decorated with the same designs as funerary monuments such as urns, broken pillars and mourning figures. Hair from the deceased was incorporated into the designs or set in a compartment at the back of the ring to give each jewel a uniquely personal element. Black or white enamel were favoured though white enamel was often, though not universally used to commemorate children and unmarried adults. By the end of the 19th century, memorial ring designs were becoming more standardised. The hoops were often inscribed with phrases such as 'In memory' whilst a commemorative inscription could be added to the inside of the hoop. The custom of giving rings as memorials gradually declined in the early 20th century, although the Goldsmiths Journal suggests that some were still being sold in the 1930s.

Physical description

Gold mourning ring enamelled in black and white. The Marquise bezel with a painting of Hope seated by an urn on a pedestal inscribed SACRED TO FRIENDSHIP bordered by laurel. Inscribed behind John Chalmers Esq. Ob. 28 Mar 1786 Aet.57.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

late 18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled and engraved gold

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed John Chalmers Esq. Ob. 28 Mar 1786 Aet.57.
behind

inscribed SACRED TO FRIENDSHIP
pedestal

Unmarked

Dimensions

Height: 2.1 cm, Width: 2.1 cm, Depth: 3.1 cm

Object history note

Part of a group of memorial and mourning jewels bought from Dr Marco Guastalla, acting on behalf of 'an English lady residing in Italy' (museum numbers 846-1888 to 989-1888)

Descriptive line

Gold mourning ring enamelled in black and white. The Marquise bezel with a painting of Hope seated by an urn on a pedestal inscribed SACRED TO FRIENDSHIP bordered by laurel. Inscribed behind, England, late 18th century

Subjects depicted

Vase, Urn; Laurel (foliage); Death; Pedestals; Mourning

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Death

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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