The majority of items can be re-sized free of charge.
“Life is fleeting and death inevitable”. To us mourning or memorial rings may seem a little macabre. But look a little closer and these beautifully crafted pieces reflect a time when death was very much a way of life. Memorial rings acted as a visual reminder of loved ones passed and prompted the wearer to live for the moment as life could be short.
Early memorial rings often incorporated an inscription relating to the deceased, typically a small poem, such as ‘Not lost but gone before', or ‘Requiescat In Pace' (Rest in Peace). Often these phrases would be inscribed on a simple band with dates of their death. It was common to set aside money in your will to allow the creation of such rings which would then be gifted to loved ones to remember you by.
Skulls were always a popular design on memento mori rings, along with coffins and in some cases a complete skeleton, depicted on either the outside or inside of bands. The other major decorative device used was hair belonging to the deceased carefully woven, either centrally set or hidden underneath the bezel.
Some of these stylistic devices continued into the eighteenth century, especially the decorative use of hair. Popular motifs included weeping willow trees, funerary urns, harps and wheat sheaves. Black and dark shades of enamel were often used, sometimes combined with dark gemstones. White enamel featured if the deceased was unmarried. At this time, the inscriptions were typically the name, the date of death and the age of the deceased.
Available at Berganza is a fascinating range of memorial and memento mori rings from the early 18th century to late 19th century.
Victorian diamond and enamel harp memorial ring, English, circa 1895.
Victorian diamond and enamel harp memorial ring. Set with twenty two round old cut diamonds in open back grain settings with an approximate combined weight of 0.70 carats, to a harp shape form with woven hair to centre and glass casing, flanked by trumpeted shoulders with elegant scrolling black enamel, conforming to the finger with a solid tapered D-shape shank, engraved to interior with 'J.M O.C.J.Mc.G.Lockyer.Obit 29/12/95'. Marked 18 carat yellow gold, circa 1895.