“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.
Although the Berganza showroom will be closed from November 5th, our website is still active and we remain open for virtual consultations and pre-booked collections. If you find a special piece during this time, our shipping team remains operational for both domestic and international shipments. All shipping is complimentary, gift wrapped and fully insured.
Should you wish to make an enquiry, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7404 2336 send an email to email@example.com, or get in touch with us via WhatsApp: +44(0)7494 076160 and one of our specialists would be delighted to assist.