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Sometimes, people ask me questions and it seems like the perfect opportunity for a blog. I’ve often thought that if I have a question, other people must be asking the same question. So here’s an answer for everyone who has ever wondered what a “TABLE CUT” diamond is.
The first thing you need to see is a natural diamond crystal. This is just a diamond crystal, the way it came out of the ground.
They don’t all look like this. Some are more irregular, some are triangular and flat, some are like squished ice cubes. The picture above is what all miners want to find- the platonic form of a perfect diamond crystal.
Actually, THIS is what all miners want to find- a perfectly smooth sided diamond crystal called a “glassie.”
Remember diamond cutting the way we know it today didn’t exist in previous centuries. The only option a jeweler had was to set the crystal as it was. That’s when you’d end up with something that looks like the coronation ring of King Charles I.
You can see the diamond crystal just sticking up out of the setting in all its weapon-like glory. Now look at the underside of the gold that’s holding the diamond. You can see that the gold is basically just set around the shape of the diamond crystal. All the diamond cutter did was to ground down the point on the bottom end of the stone.
I guess someone along the line decided that the diamond would either look good or at least not put the wearer’s eye out if they ground down the point on the top. And they literally did grind down the point. They put the diamond on a wheel covered with diamond dust and (fun fact alert) OLIVE OIL, and simply ground the point down until it created a flat area that looked like a table top. That’s it. That’s how we got table cut diamonds and why they’re called that.
Now you can go forth and impress your friends who are getting engaged with completely useless information about the history of diamond cutting!
This ring, from circa 1780, represents a wonderful expression of love.
A pear shaped ruby surrounded by diamonds is joined by a diamond surrounded by rubies. Silver surrounds the diamonds and yellow gold surrounds the rubies. Above them both sits a crown. (Some diamonds are missing, but after 236 years, we should look as good, right!?)
This ring is heavily symbolic. First, the pear shape is the Georgian Era’s representation of the heart. (See the progression of the Heart Shape here). Two hearts side by side obviously connote two lovers side by side, either in the courting phase or side by side as joined together in life after marriage. I love how the diamond is surrounded by rubies and the rubies, in turn, are surrounded by the diamonds. This can be seen as a joining of opposites, another fitting symbol for marriage or betrothal. The silver and gold, while standard metals for settings of the time period for both diamonds and colored gems, can also be seen the same way- a union of opposites.
The crown at the top of the ring signifies loyalty.
This ring is a union of two people. It’s about Harmonious Opposites, striking a balance of male and female (either in the physical sense or spiritual sense) along with two different personalities combining to form a new whole. All of this is wrapped in a sense of loyalty to one another and their new life together.
By the way, because I’m such a nerd, I thought I’d show you how current this type of ring can be. This is the ring that Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, gave to his first wife, Victoria Lockwood.
And because there is no end to my nerdy-ness for historical jewelry information, this is the ring that Napoleon Bonaparte gave to Josephine (just to enjoy!).
I’ve spent the last week binge watching Harry Potter movies. In sequence. Every night. I’ve also spent the last week irritating my cousin, a staunch Harry Potter fan, with all the questions and inconsistencies in the films. He told me I was ruining his life. I told him that he would only need therapy.
On the second go-round of start-to-finish movies, I had to do other things while I “watched” the movies. I began to search for Harry Potter themed jewelry, just like anyone would do. While I liked the creativity of the people making the jewelry, I noticed how many items were modeled on antique pieces. I admit that most jewelry though makes me think of its antique counterpart.
These are just a few. Some of these pieces I found on Pinterest with no link as to where to buy them. I have provided links to purchase the pieces when I found links.
Wingardium Leviosa Ring: This ring comes straight from posey rings. While the poseys or “poems” are usually written on the inside of the ring, some more ancient rings had inscriptions on the outside of the rings. I direct your attention to page 233 of Diana Scarisbrick’s book, Rings Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty which shows a Greek inscription “grow” on the exterior of a child’s ring from the 1st-2nd Century AD. (I’m not providing a picture because I don’t have permission to use it.)
Fast forward a bit to the Renaissance where you can find rings very similar to this Horcrux Ring:
This Deathly Hallows Pendant is basically the same type of talismanic jewelry that people have been wearing since the first “caveman and cavewoman” fashioned a pendant of a woolly mammoth tooth to protect and guide them. There are no end to talismans or the shapes they take.
The Golden Egg would make anyone think of Faberge’.
The Victorian Era contained many of the styles we can see in the Harry Potter themed jewelry. This Glasses/Scar/Deathly Hallows Ring is based on the “bypass” style so popular during Victoria’s reign. Many of us have these types of rings in our collections.
The Victorian Era also gave us the model for this Liquid Luck Pendant with the perfume bottle style vinaigrette.
This bracelet and pendant don’t have exact counterparts in antique jewelry because it’s not a common thing to have writing on the FRONT of a piece. Most writing occurred on the backs of antique pieces either in the form of engraved inscriptions or in the form of embroidered inscriptions mostly found on the backs of Georgian mourning and sentimental pieces. The bezel and glass/crystal style is also a style common to Georgian sentimental/ mourning jewelry and portrait miniatures.
See this pendant and picture from Sarah Nehama’s collection…
…and this example I just found at a show.
The Time Turner is my favorite. It may be a stretch, but as soon as I saw it I thought of this Perpetual Calendar ring from the Zucker Collection that recently sold. Hey- they both pertain to time, right?
There you have it- my crazy mind run amuck. I hope you enjoyed this very silly blog. It was a lot of fun to write. If you can think of other examples of how Harry Potter themed jewelry correlates to antique jewelry, send me a picture either on Facebook or Instagram and tag it #AntiqueThemedHarryPotterJewelry.
When I saw this ring, I have to admit, I thought it was just another pretty ring. Sure, it had provenance, but provenance from some unheard–of, long forgotten Queen? I mean, it’s not like the ring belonged to Wallis Simpson, or Madonna or somebody that we’ve vaguely heard of today. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool that the ring came from a Queen, but the coolest thing that we can say when we show it off to our friends is that well… IT CAME FROM A QUEEN. After our friends say, “Wow, that’s really great ” and don’t really mean it, we just eat our dessert and drink our coffee after dinner. It’s just one more conversation that we MIGHT remember a year from now.
So I thought to myself that if I were going to blog about this ring, I should probably find out why Caroline of Brunswick was interesting and why our friends should be so impressed at dinner. After I started doing research, I have to tell you, you should buy this ring and show it off at a dinner full of the cool kids. After you tell them this story, you’ll be one of the cool kids too.
To be a cool kid, you need to know the hot topic of the group. As we all know, one of the hottest topics in our Cool Kid/Antique Jewelry Lovers Club is Lover’s Eyes. As it turns out, this ring has a connection to all the Lover’s Eyes we all want right now.
Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel is better known as Caroline of Brunswick, The Injured Queen. She was the wife of King George IV during the years of 1795 to 1820. It was a rather interesting marriage. Caroline’s mother, Princess Augusta, was the sister of George III, George IV’s father. That makes George and Caroline first cousins. That’s not such an uncommon thing for royal marriages, but where it gets REALLY interesting is that George was already secretly married!
Yes, George IV was the same King that secretly married Maria Fitzherbert after proposing with a portrait miniature of his own eye. (Read that story here.) That particular marriage was never legally binding since he didn’t have his father’s permission to marry. Now this was not like a man asking a father’s permission to marry a daughter. In 1771, a law was enacted called The Royal Marriages Act to prevent the Royal Family from marrying anyone deemed “unsuitable.” Just like today, our siblings have to spoil all our fun. As it turns out, George’s brother had already married a commoner, Anne Horton, in 1771. His parents were furious. Since his parents were the King and Queen of England, they had a leg to stand on. Instead of grounding him, they enacted a law! Then George wanted to marry Maria, and well… you know the rest.
It was really interesting to read all the gossipy, little secrets. The whole thing was sort of like a novel. Evidently, Caroline and George didn’t care for each other. He objected to her personal hygiene and she thought he was just too fat as soon as they met! Once they were married, life didn’t improve. George carried on with his mistresses (yes, he had more than one despite his love for Maria) and Caroline moved into her summer home full time, resulting in a separation. I even read an account of George giving one of Caroline’s bracelets to a mistress who showed up at court wearing it! Oh, the scandal.
George, or Prinny as he was called, sent Caroline a note saying that she could do as she pleased as he would not be having “relations” with her. She took this at face value and the gossip gets really juicy. There were rumors that not only was she having affairs, but that she had an affair with a footman in her employ and had a four year old son named William Austin. A Royal Commission was set up around 1806 called the Delicate Investigation, but nothing could be proved. She then left England for Europe. The rumors persisted. She was said to have danced at a ball naked to the waist and had an affair with King Joachim, Napoleon’s brother-in-law. It was also said that she was having another torrid affair with a man named Bartolomeo Bergami, a “commoner of low station.” With all these affairs she was supposedly having, I’m surprised (and a bit impressed) that she had the energy for it all. I’m tired just writing about it.
Now here’s my take: I know it’s all lies because of the nature of the rumors. Supposedly, Prinny couldn’t stand to be around her because she was said to have never bathed and not changed her undergarments. He is said to have gone across the room from her the first time they met, having been driven away by her body odor, comforting himself with brandy until the morning of their wedding. Yet, one of the charges against her was that she and Bergami would bathe together. So which is it? Prinny said she never bathed!
In January of 1820, King George III died and Prinny became King. Evidently, the English government offered Caroline 50,000 pounds to stay in Europe. She did not. She came back to England to accept her crown.
George IV’s coronation took place on April 29th, 1821. Caroline arrived at the abbey demanding to be admitted but was denied. The doors were supposedly slammed in her face. She then went home and sent a letter to the King asking for her coronation to take place “next Monday.”
She died 19 days after having the abbey doors shut tight against her, never having accepted her crown. On her tombstone in Brunswick, legend has it, a plaque was placed proclaiming her “Caroline the Injured Queen of England.”
This ring is inscribed:
In memory of Caroline on Brunswick
Injured Queen of England,
Born 17 May 1768
Died 7 Aug 1821
Caroline was either an adulterer or a very famous feminist. Take your pick of whichever one you like the most. History remembers her both ways. Either way, the story makes this a ring worth owning!
First, I’ll say a few things about paste in general. According to Paste Jewelry by Malcolm David Samuel Lewis, paste is any “glass that has been cut into gem-like forms.” The kind of Paste I’m talking about here is generally going to be the leaded glass developed by Georges Frederick Strass in 1730. Because of Strass’ development, antique paste is often known as “Strass.”
Now here’s where it gets a little technical, but I promise that I’ll make it as painless as possible. Knowing this information will not only help you understand black dot paste better, it will also help you understand diamonds better! That’s a pretty good trade off, right?
To understand black dot paste jewelry, you must first understand older cuts of diamonds. Very simply, older diamond cutting techniques created an extra facet on the very bottom of the diamond, called the culet. The modern round brilliant diamond has such a small culet that it looks like it comes to a point at the bottom. Older cuts like Old Mine Cuts and Old European Cuts had much larger culets. In fact, some were so large that when I’ve shown this feature to people in the past, they tell me that it looks like a “hole” in the middle of the diamond when viewed from the top.
These diagrams will help.
Look at the very bottom of each diamond. You’ll notice that instead of coming to a point like we’re used to seeing, they were cut off at the bottom. We refer to them as “open culets.” (All culets are “cut.” Even modern round brilliant cuts have “cut culets” because points of diamonds are unstable and can chip or break easily. Cutting the culets helps prevent the diamond from chipping or breaking at that place. Modern round brilliant diamonds just have cuts so small, you don’t notice that they are cut at all.)
This is what I mean:
This is what it looks like in an actual diamond. If you look straight through the middle of the diamond from the top, you’ll see that open culet. This is what a lot of people say looks like a “hole” in the diamond.
This becomes significant to our paste discussion because many of these diamonds will allow light to escape through that open culet creating what looks like a dark spot at the bottom of the stone. (In gemology, this is called an extinction area.)
Since many older cuts of diamonds had an extinction area at the culet, and paste pieces were made to look like diamonds, the paste had to have a way to make it look like it had an extinction area also. This was created by actually painting a black dot on the bottom of the paste stone. This made it look as realistic as a diamond as possible.
Keep in mind that this wasn’t done to deceive. Wealthy women of the era happily wore these paste pieces and couldn’t have cared that they weren’t diamonds. In fact, Marie Antoinette is said to have worn paste liberally! “Paste” was interchangeable with diamonds. That’s why so many paste pieces are set in precious metals like silver and gold- because there was virtually no distinction between the two. Paste fit as easily into a fine jewelry wardrobe as our own fine jewelry items today. Because of this, you can still find “black dot paste” jewelry available today, although it can be rather scarce. If you find it, buy it because you may not see another!
If you’re a beginner, you may not have noticed that extinction area in diamonds before when looking at antique pieces. It becomes really obvious when it’s explained though.
Now compare what you just saw to actual Black Dot Paste jewelry from The Spare Room. The open culet “look” is clearly visible. That’s why Black Dot Paste has a black dot!
That’s all there is to it! It’s pretty simple. Thank you for bearing with me to learn a bit more about diamond cutting and its relationship to paste jewelry. It’s not only good information to have when buying paste jewelry, but it’s also rather helpful on any trip to an Antique Jewelry store or show!
Thank you to Jacqueline Smelkinson and Marcia Moylan for allowing me to use their fabulous inventory of black dot paste jewelry. You can find more on their website here.
Thanks for coming back to read through this collection of spooky jewelry stories for Halloween. As I stated in the first blog, all the stories are true. These occurrences happened to real people who have given me the first-hand account of their tales. You may not believe in ghosts. I myself am undecided. I WANT to believe. Whether you believe or not, the stories are certainly fascinating. Happy Halloween to you all!
I’m going to insert my two cents into the introduction of this first story because I think it’s important to remind us all that mourning jewelry brought a great sense of peace and comfort to the people who originally owned it. I know that many people see mourning jewelry as morbid today. As I wrote in a previous 3 part blog on Sentimental jewelry, there was a spiritual belief of the afterlife that was driving the creation of these particular forms of keepsakes. It was widely understood that a body had to be resurrected prior to the final judgement before going to the Afterlife. If you held a piece of the person who passed away (i.e. the hair of deceased), that person would need to come find you to retrieve that part of them before they could move on. Having a piece of jewelry with the person’s hair guaranteed that you would see that person again. That belief of being reunited brought a great sense of peace and comfort to the person who had the jewelry originally.
It is in that spirit that I will tell you the story of
The Peaceful Ring
Kim is the owner of Estate Jewelry Mama. She has a ring that allows the original sentiment of mourning jewelry to come over her- that sense of peace and comfort. If indeed some jewelry carries impressions of the past, then this ring bears the original intent upon its current owner. Since that sense of comfort was why the ring was made, I believe that Kim is wearing her ring in the truest understanding of the art form.
Kim endured the death of a friend and the death of her dog within a short time of one another. She grieved like we all would, but she mentioned that whenever she wears her ring, this sense of peacefulness comes over her. She’s reminded only of the love of both of her dear friends. I love that she has something to tie her to a sense of calm in a time of such sadness. We should all be so lucky as to have something that helps us all in a similar way.
The Quiet Grave
Sarah Nehama is the author of In Death Lamented- The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry. With her extensive collection of mourning jewelry, she was asked in an interview when she curated a show at the Massachusetts Historical Society if she had ever had any bizarre jewelry stories. She talked about a pendant that came with an unusual coincidence.
She bought a pendant with a salt-print photograph on one side and two colors of plaited hair on the other side. Around the rim of the bezel of the pendant was engraved with a name and birth and death dates. Since she had the name and significant dates, she knew she could find some information on the girl in the pendant. Her research paid off. She found that the girl, Clara Elizabeth Wilkinson, had died from tuberculosis when she was 16 years old.
On a trip to visit a friend in Boston, she decided to wear the pendant. Her friend was curious about it. Sarah took off the pendant to show it to her friend and looked out the window while her friend studied it. Her friend’s window overlooked one of the oldest cemeteries in Boston. The most prominent marker in the cemetery was that of the Franklin Family- Benjamin Franklin’s family, that is. The names on the grave were of his parents, Abiah and Josiah Franklin.
When Sarah went home, she decided to do more research on Clara. Benjamin Franklin’s sister turned out to be Clara’s great-great grandmother and the grave she was overlooking was Clara’s great-great-great grandparents! Sarah had brought the pendant of Clara (along her picture and hair) all the way home to Clara’s ancestors!
I’m always interested in how jewelry travels from place to place and how it gets to its current destination. Sarah had purchased this pendant of Clara from a dealer in England. She had no idea how the pendant found its way there, but it can almost be seen as if Sarah was guided by some spirit within the pendant itself. She mentioned in the article that she was simply attracted to the picture of Clara. Was that attraction some guiding spirit from Clara herself? Had Clara’s spirit wanted to meet her relatives after so many years in a different county? Did the spirit of Clara know that Sarah would be the vehicle to achieve that goal? Is there a spirit in the pendant at all? Who can say? After hearing so many unusual coincidences, I’m reminded of the saying that there are no coincidences.
*You can read the article for yourself here
Shake, Rattle and Dream
If you remember from Part I of this blog, I told you a story of a woman who was visited by the spirit of a downed girl in her dreams. Dreams, some people believe, are a common way for those who have passed on to communicate with the living. While this next story takes place after waking from a dream, the woman whose story this is will tell you that she was NOT dreaming during the occurrence.
Maelgwns_muse is an Instagram friend who will tell you that she has been able to read objects and people since she was a small girl. She has a number of stories of objects carrying residual impressions of those who have come before. No Halloween blog about ghost stories would be complete without an actual ghost, so here it is!
Maelgwns_muse had just bought a Victorian baby rattle, similar to the one below from the sold archives of a Skinner Auction.
I don’t know how many of you do this, but it seems to be common amongst collectors to put a new purchase on a nightstand while sleeping. Some people have told me that they are trying to get “an impression” of the piece to come them in their dreams, and I have slept with new jewelry on the pillow beside me for no other reason than because I don’t want to be apart from it yet! I have had numerous conversations about that very thing, but none of the people I’ve spoken to about doing that have ever had an occurrence like this!
Shortly after acquiring the rattle, she woke one night to see a baby with a bluish glow wearing a Victorian Christening gown crawling toward her in her bed!
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d have to think twice about keeping that rattle! As an aside, I was in an antique store recently where I found one of those Victorian rattles. I remembered that story and left the rattle there for someone braver than I am. If you are the brave sort, ask me and I’ll tell you where you can find it. If you bring it home and it has a ghost attached to it, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Thank you for reading my collection of Halloween jewelry stories. I'd like to send a special Thank You to all the people who have let me retell their stories here. I’d love to do a similar blog next year so if you have any strange happenings through the year surrounding a piece of jewelry and want to be featured in next year’s blog, please tell me your tale. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram.
Some jewelry has hidden compartments like poison rings or places for hair. Some jewelry in the 20th century contained hidden watches. There’s still other jewelry with secrets of a different kind. This kind of jewelry has secrets that you can’t see. They’re the kind of secrets and you can only feel. Have you ever had an emotional reaction to jewelry you’ve seen in a photo? Maybe you’ve even held a particular piece of jewelry and saw or felt something. If you have, you’re not alone. There are a great many people who believe that some jewelry carries impressions of previous owners or is just plain haunted.
I’ve collected a few stories to share with you from real people who have had actual experiences with types of jewelry hauntings. Some of the experiences are just a feeling. Some feelings are accompanied by visions of people long gone. One story is not so much a haunting as it is a strange and uncanny coincidence. I’ll even share a story with you about my own personal experience.
I can only hope it’s a dark and storming night when you read these stories to set the appropriate mood!
Howling at the Moonstone
Lisa Sullivan has a Ruby Lane shop called Suzy’s Timeless Treasures. She shared a story on Instagram about one particular ring she was afraid to wear. It wasn’t that the ring had an “evil presence.” It was a different kind of fear. She was afraid that she was going to lose the ring every time she wore it. Now we’ve all had that kind of feeling before with a ring that was too big for our fingers and we were afraid we would lose it because it wasn’t sized to fit us. We’ve all also had that feeling where a stone came loose and we were afraid we’d lose the stone. This kind of feeling wasn’t like that at all. It was a strange feeling that crept into the back of her mind every time it was on her finger- almost a whispered fear that this ring was going to be lost somehow. That feeling became so pronounced in her mind that she thought she wasn’t supposed to have this ring; she described it as being “uncomfortable.” Ultimately, she decided to sell it in her shop. Like most of us though, she just thought it was strange, but nothing more.
Lisa did sell the ring. Through no fault of either of the seller or the buyer, the whole sale went awry. When the new woman received the ring, she couldn’t find a jeweler in her town to resize it. It was simply too big her for her fingers. The exact word she used to describe the ring was “uncomfortable.” The second woman who received the ring was also a dealer, so since that woman couldn’t resize it, that woman decided to sell the ring too. Strangely, the sale of the ring was a headache that time also! In that woman’s words, “it made me wonder if this ring just wants to stay with one person, like someone’s energy is tied to it.” Each woman, the original seller and the buyer, seemed to have an inner “knowing” that there was some sort of loss attached to this ring. They wondered if the original owner did lose the ring and that memory of loss somehow attached itself to the “spirit” of the ring. We’ll never know for sure what happened.
Seeing the Past with Rose Colored Glasses
It’s not surprising that ghost stories are associated with mourning jewelry. Since the pieces were made to commemorate the deceased, it seems a natural tie-in. My story is about a mourning brooch. It was the largest brooch in a collection of mourning jewelry that I had purchased early in my jewelry career from the daughter of a collector. I have long since sold it, so I don’t have a picture of the actual brooch to show you, but it was similar to this with three blond haired Prince of Wales “feathers” on the face.
A woman came in to my store claiming that she could “read the spirit” of the jewelry and she asked to see the mourning brooch. I don’t really believe in ghosts so when the woman told me that the brooch belonged to a woman with dark hair who would sit in a rose colored chair, hold the brooch and think of her mother-whose hair she claimed it contained- I didn’t think much of it. I was polite, but I put the brooch back in the case and thought to myself, “sure-whatever!”
The next week, a man came in who claimed that he had a vision of roses while he held it. Again, I thought, “right…” and put the brooch back in the case. I basically forgot about the stories after that. It wasn’t until about a month after the first two experiences that I started to wonder about this piece. It was another woman this time, who basically told me what the first woman did- that a daughter had the brooch made to commemorate her mother’s passing. She also told me that she was “getting the impression of roses.” She said she didn’t have anything specific, just the impression of roses or the color of roses. It was then that I started wondering! At first I wondered if I was on candid camera and if someone would jump out and yell, “gotcha!!” I couldn’t figure out, though, how three separate people who didn’t know one another told me variations of the same thing. I thought it was kind of creepy so I put it in my safe and decided to keep it out of the showroom for a while.
The brooch stayed in the safe for at least TWO YEARS when a woman came in asking for mourning jewelry. I pulled it out expecting some sort of curious story, but none came. This woman did buy the brooch and I thought I had the last of the stories. Not quite. The woman who bought the brooch came back to me and told me that she had a psychic do a reading on it. She said that the psychic told her that the brooch belonged to a daughter who had it made it after her mother’s passing. The daughter would sit in a chair by a window and look at her mother’s rose garden while holding the brooch.
I still don’t believe in ghosts, but I will admit that this experience has certainly made me wonder.
The Tale of the Strange Bedfellow
There are two stories from a woman overseas who has been collecting antique jewelry for many years. One story is retold here and the other will post in Part 2 of this blog. Both stories will send a chill through you!
She told me of a plain, Victorian onyx locket with pearls on the face in the shape of a star. The reverse held a photograph of a girl. When she held the locket, she got the impression of the name “Sarah” and a deep sorrow. She thought of a mother’s keepsake and the strange impression of drowning. This woman sold the locket, but the buyer who purchased it returned it within the week.
The buyer said that she had seen a “shadow person” in her bedroom and had nightmares of a girl named Sarah drowning!
As I wrote in my previous post, I decided to do a Top 5 Picks post just for mourning jewelry. I went a little mourning jewelry crazy at the NY Big Flea. If I hadn’t written a separate blog, the regular post would have been too heavily loaded with mourning images, which I understand isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. This way, you can choose to read this blog or wait for the next post.
If you’re still reading, I’m going to guess that you’re like me and really dig mourning jewelry. Yes, that was a pun, albeit a rather bad one. I love mourning jewelry. I love the symbolism. I love the sentiment that it’s a physical reminder of a love that you never want to lose. I just love everything about it. My only caveat is that I ONLY love it if the hair is completely encased in the ring. The Victorian mourning pieces comprised of hair that touch my skin don’t really appeal to me. It wasn’t until I started taking notice of the Georgian mourning pieces that this love developed. They are subtle. They are so heavily laden with symbolism that they are little mystery to me. I have to look below the surface and discover the hidden meaning in the gem. That’s what appeals to me the most.
The Neoclassical sepia mourning images are some of my favorites. None of the ones I’ll be sharing today fall truly into that category, but they are meaningful nonetheless.
In alphabetical order:
This ring from Lowther Antiques is calling to me from afar. I love everything about it. First of all, when I finally buy my first mourning ring, it will be something slightly different than what everyone else has. Most mourning rings are black and I love that this one is white. That’s slightly different, right? I have a deep soul-love for urns. I don’t know what it is about urns that I love so much, but I don’t feel the need to analyze it. I just go with my love and passion and it heads straight to urns.
Then there’s the ivy on it. Ivy clings to everything just like the person who wore this originally clung to her departed loved one. (I’m saying her because the ring fits me, so it seems reasonable that it was a woman who wore this ring. Yes, it could have been resized, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) I also adore the guilloche’ under the enamel. The more I think about this ring, the more I love it.
I tried to pick one piece from 5 different people, but no matter how I tired, I just couldn’t leave these rings out from Lowther Antiques! One of these is a “holy grail” type ring, but to have HIS and HERS- come on!!!!! You’ll never see this again. Ever. Enough said.
This ring from Malcolm Magruder has so many things going for it. It’s pique’ (tortoise shell inlaid with silver). The face has a coffin shaped crystal under which a skeleton lies. If you’ve never seen one of these rings, let me tell you that the most unusual thing about it isn’t the coffin shaped crystal or the skeleton lying underneath it. The most unusual thing is the tortoise shell. The fact that it’s gone several hundred years and hasn’t been destroyed is astounding. That makes this a really rare ring.
From the surface, you’re probably wondering why I love this ring from Mary-Anntiques. That’s because you’re looking on the surface. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but there’s an inscription under the bezel that’s keeping me awake at night. The inscription reads: “A Pledge of Lilith.” I have no idea what that means, but what it COULD mean make me wonder endlessly. Lilith was Adam’s first wife in the Bible. There are many stories of her, but my favorite is from the creation myth. The FIRST creation myth. The story goes that Adam and Lilith were not only created at the same time, but they were created attached to one another- back to back like conjoined twins. God then sawed them apart, which is why we have bumps on our backbones to this day.
So you can see why the inscription makes me lie awake at night wondering about it. How would you like to own a ring with a secret message that got passed through the ages? Was this a ring that a belonged to a married couple who thought they were two halves of one being? Was it a passcode to secret organization? It might even be a clue to a secret family treasure! Pretty cool, huh!?
The last ring is just so unusual and sweet. I’m not a heart kind of person, typically, but this one got to me. It’s obviously a ring of love. It may not even be a mourning ring specifically, since jewelry with hair was given in a few circumstances. Besides mourning, a suitor could give a woman a ring with hair as a way of pledging his affections. It was also not uncommon for friends to give each other jewelry containing one another’s hair. It COULD have been made for one of those circumstances just as easily as a mourning ring. We’ll never know.
That’s why I love mourning jewelry- there are so many wonderful secrets and mysteries to unlock! It’s endlessly fascinating and really appealing- at least to me it is. J
Thank you for reading my post. I hope you found reading it as pleasurable as I did writing it.
*All the items are for sale from the specific dealers mentioned in the post. Please click on the names for a link to that dealer’s site. The exceptions are Malcolm McGruder who has the tortoise shell coffin ring and Roy and Julia Rover who have the heart ring. They do not have websites so here are their business cards.
Nicholle Mogavero is