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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1701 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold with gold wire and painted gold stampings under rock crystal

  • Museum number:

    M.21-1929

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 12, shelf B, box 1

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.

This is a memorial ring for James II of England and VII of Scotland whose Catholic faith caused him to renounce the throne and who died in exile in 1701 at St Germain en Laye, France. James ascended to the throne in 1688 on the death of his brother Charles II but his absolutist view of monarchy and Catholicism rapidly led to political upheaval. Parliament invited his son in law William of Orange and daughter Mary to take the throne in the 'Glorious Revolution' and as James's armies deserted, he was forced to flee for France.

Under the faceted rock crystal can be found the monogram JR in gold wire below a crown supported by two angels in silk. The two angels supporting the royal crown underline James' claim that he was King by divine right, not merely by law. The ring may have been made for one of his family or perhaps for a member of his exiled court. Wearing the ring constituted an act of mourning but also an expression of continuing support for the Stuart claim to the throne.

Physical description

Gold commemorative ring with an oval bezel set with a faceted crystal enclosing the monogram JR in gold wire below a crown supported by two angels in silk. The foliated shoulders are enamelled in black

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1701 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold with gold wire and painted gold stampings under rock crystal

Marks and inscriptions

monogram JR in gold wire

Dimensions

Height: 2.4 cm, Width: 2 cm, Depth: 1.2 cm

Object history note

ex Harman-Oates Collection

Descriptive line

Gold commemorative ring for James II set with a rock crystal covered monogram. England, about 1701.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Oates, Frederick Arthur HarmanCatalogue of finger rings brought together by F.A. Harman Oates, F.S.A., 1917

Materials

Gold; Enamel; Rock crystal; Textile

Subjects depicted

Monograms; Death; Crowns (headdresses); Angels; Foliation (pattern); Mourning

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Royalty; Death; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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