Settings aside a portion of one's estate for the express purpose of making memorial jewelry was fairly common practice among the nobility and upper classes by the early 19th century when this sensational ring was made. These allotments varied in amount according to the importance of the recipient in the deceased's life. Very close friends and family would receive larger sums, and with this money they would have tribute jewels made (often according to the stylistic directives of the will). Judging by the outstanding quality and detail of this ring made in memory of Sarah Jones, it must have been bequeathed to someone very close to her. The ring is fashioned in rose gold with a long rectangular face. The shoulders feature the heads of two snakes with garnet eyes and red enamel mouths. The reptiles share a single body with impeccable black enamel crosshatching. The engraving on the reverse side of the head reads "Sarah Jones died 19 Nov 1810 Aged 44". The face originally would have held a hair locket, however, it was missing when we acquired the ring. We've added a beautiful custom cut garnet cabochon. This ring is a size 9.5 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.