For close to 100 years, mourning rings were made like most jewelry, with precious metals and stones. However, when plastic hit the accessories market around the turn of the century, jewelers started making mourning pieces out of the stuff. These mass-produced rings were probably inspired by the popular "Bakelite prison ring", which has an amazing history. San Quentin State Prison is California's oldest penitentiary, and has been riddled with problems since its construction (by inmates!) in 1852. In the 1930s, a reform-minded warden named Clinton Duffy shuttered the solitary-confinement dungeon, founded the San Quentin State Prison chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, and made sure that all the prisoners had toothbrushes. At the time, these were probably made of celluloid, Bakelite, or a similar phenol-formaldehyde-based early plastic. When one particularly difficult inmate told Duffy how he'd melted his toothbrush down to make a ring, the warden helped him set up shop in his cell, and before long the inmate was busily fulfilling ring orders from both inside and outside San Quentin. (When the inmate was finally released from the clink after WWII, he had socked away $2,000, enough to start his own plastics-manufacturing business.) Duffy detailed all of this in his book, The San Quentin Story. Thus the legend of the Bakelite "prison" ring was born. We have strung these mourning rings on a 30" brass rope chain. Please select which necklace you would like below.