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Ring

Ring

  • Place of origin:

    England

  • Date:

    1820

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, jet, enamel, hair and glass

  • Museum number:

    892-1888

  • 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

Memorial or mourning ring of gold with a chased and enamelled hoop decorated with flowers. . The oblong bezel is set with small pieces of faceted jet around a rectangular panel of plaited hair under a glass cover. Engraved at the back 'James Clarke obt 10 Augt 1820 aet. 66'. All but 5 of the jet pieces are now missing. The outside of the hoop is enamelled in black 'In memory of' in Gothic capital letters.

Place of Origin

England

Date

1820

Materials and Techniques

Gold, jet, enamel, hair and glass

Marks and inscriptions

Unmarked

Dimensions

Width: 2.1 cm, Height: 1.3 cm, Depth: 2.2 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

Memorial or mourning ring of gold with a chased and enamelled hoop. The oblong bezel is set with faceted jet around a panel of plaited hair under a glass cover. Engraved at the back 'James Clarke obt 10 Augt 1820 aet. 66'. England, 1820.

Materials

Gold; Jet; Enamel; Hair; Glass

Categories

Metalwork; Jewellery; Death

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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