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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    mid 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled gold, with a miniature under crystal

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.145-1962

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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. Royalists considered Charles's death to be a martyrdom and images of him often show his eyes gazing upwards towards Heaven. Before his execution, Charles cast the loss of his crown as the change from an earthly kingdom to a celestial - saying "I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be."

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.

Physical description

Enamelled gold commemorative ring, the oval bezel with a crystal enclosing a miniature on vellum of Charles I and on the reverse an enamelled white skull below a crown between C and R. There is a palm in black enamel and a crystal on the shoulders. The hoop is inscribed inside sic transit gloria mundi.

The crystal has been damaged and a portion has been replaced with an adhesive which is now deteriorating.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

mid 17th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled gold, with a miniature under crystal

Marks and inscriptions

skull below a crown between 'C' and 'R'

'sic transit gloria mundi'
'thus passes the vainglory of the world'
Inscription on the inside of the hoop

Dimensions

Height: 2.2 cm, Width: 2 cm, Depth: 1.1 cm

Object history note

From the Sir John Evans Collection and subsequently owned by Dame Joan Evans. Shown at the Stuart Exhibition, London, 1889 (cat. 1046 or 1047).

Historical significance: I

Historical context note

Commemorates the death of King Charles.

Descriptive line

Enamelled gold commemorative ring, the oval bezel with a crystal enclosing a miniature of Charles I and on the reverse an enamelled white skull below a crown between C and R. The hoop is inscribed. England, mid 17th century.

Materials

Gold; Vellum; Crystal

Techniques

Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Skull (skeleton component); Miniatures (paintings); Crowns (headdresses); Mourning; Palm trees

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Royalty; Death

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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