Mourning rings were made and worn to commemorate the death of a close friend or relative. The use of memorial rings dates back to Ancient Rome, but the height of their production and popularity began in the Georgian era and continued through the Victorian. Mourning rings—and other forms of memorial jewelry—were purchased through the estate of the deceased and given out at the funeral. Jewelers would stock a variety of styles of mourning rings, these rings could then be ordered (sometimes in great quantities) and engraved with a name, age, and date of death. This 18k yellow gold mourning band is such a piece, the dedication on the interior reads "Richard Jeyes Ob 13th July 1822 At 23". The borders of the ring feature black enamel stripes and an ornate floral and acanthus pattern, the inner channel is enameled in black and reads "In Memory Of". The ring features full London assay marks for gold content and the year 1822. This ring is a size 7.25 and cannot be resized.
GEORGIAN (1714 - 1837)
The Georgian Era was named for the English Kings George I, II, III and IV. Within the powerful nations of France and England, fine gemstone jewelry was worn only by the extremely wealthy, and the styles were regal and ornate. As imperialist war raged in the Americas, Caribbean, Australia, and beyond, the jewelry industry benefited: colored gems from all over the empire became newly available.
A mix of artistic influences from around Europe contributed to the feminine, glittering jewels of the era. Dense, ornate Baroque motifs from Italy showed up in Georgian jewelry, as did French Rococo’s undulating flora and fauna. Neoclassical style made use of Greek and Roman motifs, which were newly popular due to the recently uncovered ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Lapidary methods improved: the dome-shaped rose cut was popular, as was the “old mine cut”, a very early iteration of today’s round brilliant cut. The boat-shaped marquise diamond cut was developed around this time, supposedly to imitate the smile of Louis XV’s mistress, the marquise de Pompadour. Paste—an imitation gemstone made from leaded glass—was newly developed in the 18th century, and set into jewelry with the same creativity and care as its more precious counterparts.
Real and imitation gems were almost always set in closed-backed settings, lined on the underside with thin sheets of foil to enhance the color of the stone and highlight it's sparkle. This makes Georgian rings tough for modern women to wear, especially on an everyday basis: genteel, jewelry-owning ladies of the 18th century were not famous for working with their hands like we are. Nor did they wash their hands as much as we do. Water will virtually ruin a foiled setting, so take special care with your Georgian ring. Very little jewelry from this period is still in circulation, and it's very difficult to repair.