Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Ring

c.1800-50
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. 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.

This ring does not include any biographical information but is an impressive jewel with a panel of plaited hair surrounded by a seed pearls and a decorative gold border.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, enamel, hair, pearls and glass
Brief Description
Gold and enamel mourning or memorial ring with an oblong bezel decorated with seed pearls around a panel of plaited hair. England, c. 1800-50
Physical Description
Gold ring with fluted hoop, chased and enamelled with a floral pattern. Set with an oblong bezel enamelled in black and decorated with a rectangular panel of seed pearls around a glass window holding a panel of plaited hair.
Dimensions
  • Height: 1.2cm
  • Width: 1.9cm
  • Depth: 2.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Unmarked
Object history
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)
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. 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.



This ring does not include any biographical information but is an impressive jewel with a panel of plaited hair surrounded by a seed pearls and a decorative gold border.
Bibliographic Reference
Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, cat. 914
Collection
Accession Number
898-1888

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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