Mourning Ring thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Mourning Ring

1680-1720 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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 design of this ring is similar to that specified in the 1690 will of Rear-Admiral Sir John Chicheley: 'I desire you will give to Lord George a Mourning Ring according to the new fashion with my haire and Cypher and two small Diamonds on each side somewhat better than ordinary.'


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled gold set with rose-cut rock crystal in silver over gold wire
Brief Description
Gold mourning ring, formerly enamelled, the circular bezel set with a faceted rock crystal enclosing CP in gold wire. The foliated shoulders enamelled, England, 1680-1720.
Physical Description
Gold mourning ring, formerly enamelled, the circular bezel set with a faceted crystal enclosing CP in gold wire. The foliated shoulders enamelled
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.6cm
  • Width: 2.2cm
  • Depth: 1.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
initialled CP
Credit line
Given by Child and Child
Subjects depicted
Summary
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 design of this ring is similar to that specified in the 1690 will of Rear-Admiral Sir John Chicheley: 'I desire you will give to Lord George a Mourning Ring according to the new fashion with my haire and Cypher and two small Diamonds on each side somewhat better than ordinary.'
Collection
Accession Number
M.95-1913

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record createdJuly 10, 2006
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