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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1837 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled and engraved gold set with an emerald

  • Museum number:

    M.248-1984

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 23, shelf D, box 13 []

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. The emerald in this ring is a later addition, perhaps replacing a panel of hair.

The crown and initials WR indicate that it was made for William IV, who reigned from 1830-1837. William was the third son of George III and succeeded his older brother George IV to the throne. Britain during his reign made a number of important reforms including the abolition of slavery in most of the British Empire, parliamentary reform through the Reform Act of 1832, the New Poor Law and restrictions on child labour through the Factory Acts. Although he had at least ten illegitimate children, his marriage to Adelaide of Saxe Meiningen didn't produce any surviving children and he was succeeded by his niece Victoria.

Physical description

Gold memorial ring decorated with black enamel and an emerald. Engraved with a crown and the initials 'WR' made to commemorate William IV's death. London Hallmarks for 1837

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1837 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled and engraved gold set with an emerald

Marks and inscriptions

inscribed WR
For William Rex
William IV, King of England, r. 1830-1837

Dimensions

Height: 2.4 cm, Width: 2.3 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm

Descriptive line

Gold memorial ring for William IV, decorated with black enamel and an emerald. Engraved with a crown and the initials 'WR'. London hallmarks for 1837

Materials

Gold; Enamel; Emerald

Subjects depicted

Death; Mourning

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Death; Royalty; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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