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Momento Mori ring

Possibly France

17th century

Silver ring, the square beze set with a cabochon amethyst with fluting at the sides and enamelled black spotted with white, the hoop enamelled black on the shoulders which end in a skull and crossed bones

17.12 mm internal ring diameter; 6.93 g weight

Bought in Paris

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F563

Mortality rates were high in the sixteenth and seventeenth century due to war, plague and famine and Memento Mori rings such as this example were intended to remind the wearer of their mortal state.

Scarisbrick and Henig, Finger Rings, 2003, pl. 20.4