Mourning Rings


front view Antique diamond and pearl 'urn' memorial ring, circa 1780.
Antique diamond and pearl 'urn' memorial ring, circa 1780.
Ref: 14282

Wednesday 10th March 2010

Our featured items are part of a varied collection of mourning jewellery. Rings or lockets were often worn in memory of a loved one for a specified time after their death. The idea of bequeathing a piece of jewellery dates from the Middle Ages and was common practice by the seventeenth century. Generally the name and dates of the loved one would be engraved on a ground of black enamel with some embellishments. These rings or brooches would have been expensive and the money was traditionally left in a will for the express purpose of having a piece of jewellery made.

There was a massive surge in the amount of mourning rings being made in the 1660's as a direct result of the Black Death. 

The motifs remain constant throughout the centuries although the styles change. They would include, primarily, a skull and cross-bones, a skeleton, sometimes an hour-glass to remind people of the short span of life or even a spade in some cases, this was usually coupled with the legend 'Memento Mori' , 'AET' or 'OBT'. 

For further examples, please see the funerary collection at the British Museum.

Amethyst memorial ring for the Right Honourable George Grenville (British Prime Minister, 1763-1765)
Amethyst memorial ring for the Right Honourable George Grenville (British Prime Minister, 1763-1765)
Ref: 12510
Antique memorial ring, circa 1683.
Antique memorial ring, circa 1683.
Ref: 13458
Antique Amethyst and Diamond Memorial Ring, Circa 1761.
Antique Amethyst and Diamond Memorial Ring, Circa 1761.
Ref: 13461
Georgian memorial ring with secret compartment, circa 1820.
Georgian memorial ring with secret compartment, circa 1820.
Ref: 14456
Antique Agate and Diamond Ring in Gold with Locket Back, circa 1860.
Antique Agate and Diamond Ring in Gold with Locket Back, circa 1860.
Ref: 13780
front-view-Georgian-enamel-gold-ring-berganza-hatton-garden
Georgian enameled gold memorial ring, English, circa 1807.
Ref: 22359
Antique Crystal Set Memorial Ring.
Antique Crystal Set Memorial Ring.
Ref: 13466
front-view-antique-Diamond-Pearl Mourning-diamond-ring-hatton-garden-berganza
Antique Rose Diamond and Pearl Mourning Ring, circa 1770.
Ref: 14281

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88-90 HATTON GARDEN, London, EC1N 8PN, England


Berganza the jewellers is based in the heart of Hatton Garden, London. We specialise in the finest examples of ancient, antique and vintage engagement rings. We are proud to have one of the largest collections of these rings in the world.

We believe in only offering exceptional pieces from each design period, from Ancient Roman intaglio seal rings, Viking twisted rings through to rare gem-set Medieval pieces, Georgian, ornate Victorian, elegant Edwardian, bold Art Deco and retro vintage designs. Each piece has a unique historical background and dates to a time when jewellery was crafted by hand, so no two are alike.

We deal in rarity and as such have a vast collection of posy rings, the precursors to 'modern' wedding rings. Each piece of jewellery is set with hand cut diamonds or natural and unenhanced gemstones, often from mines long since depleted. Our team of specialists are trained in all aspects of gemology and history of jewellery design so we are able to select the finest quality pieces of jewellery for our extensive one-of-a-kind stock

Telephone +44 (0)20 7430 0393 / +44 (0)20 7404 2336


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