Memorial rings are worn for the commemoration of individuals who have passed away, a treasured symbol that represents the impact of the loss of a loved one. Antique memorial rings, in particular, can hold many secrets from the eras they were devised, as well as their past owners, and the loved ones to whom they were dedicated.
The extensive history of memorial rings can be dated back to the roman empire during the battle of Cannae. Roman soldiers were ordered to replace their golden rings with rings of iron during periods of mourning, reflecting the significance of the use of memorial rings.
Berganza's rare collection of memorial rings can be dated back to the 17th century, but it was during the Victorian era when the purpose of memorial rings and jewellery was completely encapsulated due to the death of Queen Victoria's beloved Prince Albert in 1861. Queen Victoria had lost the love of her life which led her to enter a long state of mourning. This involved her only wearing black clothing and jewellery for 40 years, which as a result had profound effects on Victorian-era styles and the shift in trends.
The memorial rings of the Victorian era are often the most sought-after, due to their complex and personable designs that were imperative parts of mourning states during these times. One of the most common and distinguishing features of the memorial ring designs that we can find today is the use of the lost loved ones' hair being incorporated into the ring.
Another distinctive feature that can be seen on memorial rings is the inclusion of symbols or words that reflect the connection between the wearer and the late individual. This might include the date of the death or birth of the lost loved one, or perhaps their initials. The most commonly used stones on memorial rings include dark enamel, gemstones, or even pearls which were motifs for the era to represent the tears of losing that person.
Modern Memorial rings today are incomparable to the beautiful craftsmanship of ancient pieces, and the character and history they hold are not as easily obtained. Explore our timeless and rare collection of memorial rings today.
Mourning rings, also known as memorial rings, are worn to commemorate a bereavement of a loved one or even a historical figure such as a monarch of the time. The modern development of memorial jewellery has followed the integration of the lost one's ashes into the gemstone or design. The historical and traditional design of memorial rings follows the inclusion of the date of birth or death of the loved one, or potentially a meaningful message or symbol that is affiliated with their mourning.
Often, there is some confusion between the interchangeable terms ‘mourning ring’ and ‘memorial ring’. To answer simply, mourning and memorial rings are essentially the same thing. They both were derived to commemorate the loss of a loved one, with equally dark yet elegant designs. More modern terminology for memorial rings includes Tribute rings, to which ashes are often incorporated into the rings designed to keep the lost loved ones close.
There are some varying opinions as to which finger memorial rings should be worn, but the main feature to keep in mind is that mourning rings should be worn on the left hand. The idea of keeping meaningful jewellery on the left of your body is to keep the item as close to your heart as possible.
With that being said, the Victorians traditionally wore the memorial ring on their ring finger on the left hand. If someone had been widowed, either husband or wife, the wedding ring would be moved onto the right hand and the memorial ring would replace it on the left-handed ring finger.
Memorial rings should not be limited to tradition, they may be worn on whichever finger you feel is most meaningful in creating a connection between you and your late loved one.
It is said that the height of memorial ring popularity was during the Victorian era, during the 4 decade-long mourning period for Queen Victoria following the loss of her husband Prince Albert. Wearing mourning rings and other mourning styles became extremely fashionable, which led to the mass production of many memorial pieces that we can appreciate today.
The average lifespan of Victorians was 40 to 45 years due to the unfortunate developments of the war, disease, and poor living conditions. Death was frequent, therefore memorial rings were a form of comfort for those grieving their losses and heartache.
Mourning rings have progressed with time and it is clear to see which eras the rings may have been derived from. For example, some of the most ancient and mediaeval memorial rings feature darkened themes such as sculls, acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death or as spoken back then ‘memento mori’.
The Victorian era saw memorial rings and other mourning jewellery take a softer approach in the designs, with common symbols such as angels, willows, clouds, flowers, and initials being used to create an elegant expression of their grievance. You would also expect to see dark gemstones being used, with sometimes the addition of the lost ones' real hair being intricately included in the precious design of the memorial ring.