Georgian Memorial Ring 18k Gold Hair Enamel Memento Mori 1788
Mourning jewelry emerged long before photography existed, as a way to commemorate a loved one. Pieces are sometimes known as Memento Mori, which is a Latin phrase meaning, “Remember that you will die”. They were creative and beautiful pieces that reflected upon mortality. In 1649, King Charles I was executed and many aristocrats wanted to express their sympathy. They commissioned jewelry makers to craft pieces with a portrait of the king. This event caused a shift in the making of mourning jewelry. No longer was there just a focus on the inevitable, but there was now a focus on life on earth.
Memorial jewels were made to distribute amongst close friends and family of the deceased, typically by wealthier families who could afford it. Often, the one who made the arrangements for this was the deceased, prior to their passing. They were stunning pieces, some with miniature portraits of the loved one, some with woven locks of hair. This piece features a lovely oval of braided hair under a crystal. The black enamel band reads: JOSef DAVENPORT - OB 13 FEB 1788 - AE 25. Alas for the poor lad, to have perished at such a tender age, not even a single gray hair intertwined with the brown. This unmarked ring tests as 18 karat gold and is a size 6.75, it could not be resized. The ring measures 19.5 mm north to south and 15 mm across at the front, it sits 3.3 mm off the finger and narrows to 2.2 mm at the band, it weighs 4.6 grams.
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