Charles I memorial skull ring. A yellow gold ring centrally set with an oval portrait miniature of Charles I, beneath a rock crystal cabochon in a collet setting and enclosed within a ridged gold frame, the reverse engraved with a stylised skull, initialled 'C R' and dated '30th Jan 1648', with black enameled scrolling foliate decoration to the shoulders, tapering to form a solid D-shape shank. Tested yellow gold, English, circa 1650. Accompanied by an Oxford Labs X-ray fluorescence report stating the composition of the metal.
Ascending to the throne in 1625, Charles I's reign was a tumultuous one, which culminated in a Civil War and his own execution in January of 1649. Rings such as this are typical of the Stuart period, growing in popularity during the Civil War and Interregnum, when Royalists embraced the medium as a means of displaying their own political allegiance to the Stuart family - a considerably dangerous thing to do in Cromwell's newly declared 'Commonwealth of England'.
The King's likeness within this portrait miniature may have been based on Sir Anthony Van Dyck's 'Triple Portrait of Charles I', 1635-36 (Royal Collection).
For a similar Charles I memorial ring of a slightly later date, see Victoria & Albert Museum, acquisition number M.1-1909.