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Mourning ring

England

Dated 1728

Gold mourning ring, the bezel set with a faceted crystal covering a skull and grave diggers tools, the white enamel hoop inscribed JJ ob 10th Dec 1728 aged 21

15.27 mm internal ring diameter; 2.9 g weight

On loan from Evelyn Lee and Margaret Woodcock; LI1045.16

Mourning ring: The distribution of mourning rings to the friends and loved ones of the deceased dates back to the fourteenth century. By the seventeenth century, the tradition of bequeathing actual rings once owned by the departed was superseded by the allocation of money in a will for the purchase of new ones for a given list of recipients. The rings were inscribed with the name, date of death and age of the deceased and took on various forms depending on the fashion of the age. Their distribution finally dwindled in the nineteenth century following the invention of the photograph as an alternative keepsake.