Antique Georgian Dated 1830 14k Gold and Seed Pearl Mourning Ring

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While most people equate the rise of mourning jewelry with Queen Victoria, it actually predates the widow of Windsor by more than 200 years.

The 17th century was a time riddled with pestilence and death. Diseases ran rampant; many children were dying. Death was on the forefront of everyone's mind and was reflected in the macabre images of memento mori jewelry, a popular jewelry style of the period. Decorated with skeletons and skulls, memento mori jewelry was donned to remind the wearer that they too will die one day. 

However, people's views on death and mourning began to change around 1649 following the execution of King Charles I of England. Many loyalists wanted to show their sympathy and support for the fallen king and commissioned jewelers to make pieces designed with Stuart crystal (the king was of the House of Stuart) with a portrait of the king underneath.

This began a trend among the wealthy elite to have mourning pieces commissioned to remember lost loved ones and also marked the shift from memento mori to mourning jewelry. (Though it really was Queen Victoria who popularized the trend.)

This lovely ring is dated 1830, which is right at the tail end of the Georgian period. It is crafted in rosy 14k gold with a central glass compartment surrounded by tiny seed pearls.

Inside the compartment is a tiny piece of fabric with metallic copper thread. The original owner of the piece said the ring initially had a lock of hair under the glass, but the family thought it was unsightly, so the hair was removed and replaced with the fabric swatch.

The back of the ring bears the inscription: "J.B.M. obit. 5 Meÿ 1830"

This is a wonderful collector piece for any antique jewelry lover!


Width: 3/4"
Height: 1/2"
Size: 8 3/4
Weight: 2.61g

Marked: There is a partial number and letter stamp on the outside of the shank, but we cannot make out what they say.

Condition: Very Good
Ring and glass has light surface scratches and patina consistent with age and use. Does not detract.