Rings 02.05.2016
A gold fede and gimmel ring consisting of two interlocking and twisted hoops with clasped hands forming the bezel. Within the lower hand is a heart and, when the two hoops are joined, the top hand clasps this heart. The hands extend to the shoulders, becoming cuffs and these are decorated and partly enamelled. On the inside of each hoop is an inscription that remains concealed when the two hoops are shut.

Clasp Hands with an Early Gimmel Ring

Clasping hands is a universal symbol of a union and trust. Personal connections are forged through the range of time…

Rings 28.04.2016
Gold and black enamel mourning ring with an octagonal swivel case containing, on one side, a gold crowned CR monogram on ground of white hair, under a crystal; the reverse with lock of grey hair and an inscription on the band 'ob 17 Nov, 1818 aet. 75'. Shank enamelled in black.

Royalty & Control in a Mourning Ring for a Queen, 1818

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on the 19th of May 1744 and passed away on the 17th of November, 1818….

Lockets 24.04.2016
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Neoclassical Mourning Locket & Royalty, 1821

Having privilege in wealth is not required for mourning jewels, but it certainly helps. The range of quality in bespoke…

Accessories 21.04.2016
Tiepin with a miniature of a lady's eye, 1900-10

Miniature Eye Tie Pin

Reverence for history and a passion to relive it are facets to the fascination of a collector. Because we love…

Brooches 17.04.2016
Hair-work brooch made of brown human hair. Shaped in a bow. The centre is bound round with gold wire and the ends are trimmed with gold tassels. There is a gold pin engraved with the birth and death dates of a 16-year-old. With a black card box with an engraved label.

A Hair Brooch for Sarah Beth Sparks, 1841

The beauty of mourning jewels is how immediate they are with their emotion. They don’t need to be expensive, elaborate…

Brooches 14.04.2016
Openwork gold, enamelled in black set with diamonds and pearls, with pearls and diamond pendants

A French Black Enamel Brooch, c.1860

Global inspiration for jewellery design reflected colonisation and increased global transit that could share cultural art and values. The oriental route had…

Rings 10.04.2016
Mourning-ring; enamelled gold, the hoop enamelled white, in the form of two skeletons supporting a coffin-shaped bezel with moveable lid fastened with a pin and ornamented with a Maltese cross once enamelled red, on a black ground with hearts reserved in the metal, an enamelled cinquefoil at one end. Inside the coffin is a tiny white-enamelled skeleton. At the back of the bezel ares two clasped hands.

Skeletal Memento Mori Ring

Mourning jewellery and devotional jewellery represent the same ideals. Piety and love come from an undying fidelity that allows a…

Memories 29.02.2016
Gold brooch or pin with an enamelled gold frame, ivory painted in watercolour with a miniature of a woman seated by a tomb beneath a willow with hair in design

1760-1800, Neoclassicism in Mourning Jewels

Facing the ideals of the Enlightenment and a new appreciation for classical history, the period between 1760 and 1800 created…

Collecting 13.01.2016
This painted enamel portrait miniature in a gilt metal frame bears a bust portrait of a lady of the French court. She has green eyes and light brown hair and wears white mourning dress. Opinion differs as to her precise identity. The decorative border of interlinked knotted blue S-scrolls surrounding her may give a clue as to who she might be, as may the choice of subject depicted on the back of the medallion. The back is delicately painted in gold with the subject of Moses receiving the tablets of the law from the Old Testament book of Exodus. Sixteenth-century portrait miniatures had their origins in the art of manuscript illumination and were usually painted in watercolour on vellum. The earliest extant painted enamel medallion is probably Netherlandish and can be dated to about 1425. This miniature was however made in Limoges, central France, a town already famed for its earlier champlevé enamel production. Painted enamels, made in Limoges from 1460s, reached an artistic and technical high-point during the sixteenth century. The work was highly-skilled and time-consuming which means that a well-executed portrait medallion such as this was an expensive luxury item made to commission. Though unsigned, the miniature is now considered to have been painted by the skilled Limoges artist Leonard Limosin (c.1505 to c.1575/77) in about 1530-40, at the start of his long career. Limosin is thought to have trained in the Penicaud workshop, and the medallion has previously been attributed to Jean II Penicaud, a known exponent of detailed gold painting. In about 1534, Limosin was invited to the court of Francois I and subsequently divided his time between the court at Fontainebleau and his workshop in Limoges. He later also served Henri II, Francois II and Charles IX. Before 1842, this enamel was owned by the well-known collector, Horace Walpole who claimed that it had once belonged to the mother of King George I, Princess Sophia Maria, Duchess of Hanover (d.1714).

Mourning Fashion in White

The affectation of white in mourning is ubiquitous, and appears throughout the world in funerary and mourning customs. White, the…

Collecting 03.01.2016
Gold mourning ring enamelled in black and white. The shaped rectangular bezel, with a willow tree reserved on white enamel with a small glazed locket containing hair. Inscribed behind Anna/ Seward./ Ob. 25 March, 1809.' Aet. 66.

Mourning Jewellery in White

With its absence of light and its embodiment of the mystery of the unknown, black is the accepted primary colour…

Collecting 10.12.2015
Photograph of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) with Empress Frederick (1840-1901) both wearing black in mourning holding a photograph of Emperor Frederick III who died in June 1888

Mourning Jewels: How They Were Worn, Part 2

The wearing of 18th century mourning jewelry set the template for numerous revivals through to the 20th century. The 19th century was the catalyst…

Collecting 03.12.2015
Full-length portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), standing in mourning costume, with the Royal Arms of Scotland behind; she holds a crucifix in her right hand, a prayer-book in her left, and wears a cross and rosary; behind her are her two ladies; left a scene of her execution

Mourning Jewels: How They Were Worn, Part 1

A question as simple as ‘how was a jewel worn?’ leads to the most complex of answers. The narrative of…

Accessories 12.11.2015
Collection of mourning and sentimental jewels donated to Art of Mourning

A Collection & The Late 19th Century

Mourning jewellery holds a certain fascination in jewellery collecting, far more than any other modern style of jewel. They are…

Accessories 03.10.2015
A French chatelaine of cut steel, c. 1770-1780, with oval glazed compartment, one side showing initials in hair (FJC) on an ivory background, the other with a wheat sheaf, also from hair on ivory, showing three broken stalks and three birds in flight above. The top has a swivel spring clip, the bottom has an oval cut steel medallion attached to a second swivel spring clip. The links are attached with faceted split rings. There are two side bell caps; whatever was there originally is now missing- perhaps seals? There are holes around the tops of the decorative twist on the caps- perhaps something was pinned inside? Very good condition, hairwork is pristine, end of steel medallion missing half of small finial, one steel facet missing at 6 o’clock on the wheat sheaf side surround. Some rust, mostly to bottom medallion. Measures 10” long; the glazed compartment measures 3/4” x 5/8”.

The Chatelaine, Function and Sentimentality

Tokens of affection aren’t simply baubles that are transient, they are often useful accessories that hold a memory within their daily…

Collecting 16.09.2015
Mourning ring; gold; marquise bezel studded round border with garnets in settings over bands of blue and white enamel; contains figure of Britannia(?) sitting on stern of vessel on which is a name, and wreathing the picture of an admiral; lion at her feet with paw on dead dove. No maker's mark.

Death at Sea: Mourning Jewellery and Nationalism

Being lost at sea strikes an image of loss and departure that evokes the very essence of sadness. In the very…

Collecting 01.09.2015
Chased two-colour gold brooch set with carved amethysts in the form of a fruiting mulberry with an enamelled gold ladybird on one leaf. The mulberries are carved on the upper side only.

Jewellery Transition From Death to Life

Stages of mourning are the steps towards reappearance in society. Each stage has its rituals to enable respect and memory…

Rings 06.08.2015
Silver gilt ring, the applied bezel with a heart between two death's heads. The hoop engraved with a worm and inscribed in black letter + iohes godefroy

The Earliest Mourning Ring

Discovering a beginning is the true way to understand the very essence of a concept. Mourning, at its core, is about…

Rings 29.07.2015
Micromosaic mourning ring, c.1800, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Cameo & Micromosaic Influences in Mourning Jewels

Culturally, the values of Europe differ across small geographic regions. Values in religion, politics, and language all have an impact on the styles of…

Memories 06.07.2015
A gold mourning brooch with black and white enamel frame set with circular miniature of Queen Victoria wearing the riband of the Order of the Garter

Mourning Fashion & Jewels During Victoria

Victoria’s reign from the 20th of June, 1837 to the 22nd of January, 1901 was the height and decline of the…

Memories 22.06.2015
Miniature of William IV when Duke of Clarence, bust-length, wearing a black coat and waistcoat over a white stock with the sash and star of the Order of the Garter mounted in a gold locket, possibly by Rundell, Bridge & Co., with chased and repoussé Garter emblems and with his crowned initials on the lid, the reverse chased with the badge of the Order of the Bath within the collar and the badge of the Order of the Thistle on a matte ground.

Mourning Fashion & Jewels During William IV

William IV was born William Henry on the 21st of August, 1765, the third son of George III. From the…

Memories 08.06.2015
c.1786, Gold ring, the oval bezel set with a James Tassie paste cameo of George, Prince of Wales, later King George IV

Mourning Fashion & Jewels During George IV

Between the time of the Regency Act in 1811 and the reign of George IV from 1820 to 1830, society…

Memories 25.05.2015
This ring formed part of a suite of jewels given to Queen Charlotte by the King on their wedding day, 8 September 1761. Charlotte Papendiek records that this ring is set with the ‘likeness of the King in miniature, done exquisitely beautiful for the coin, by our valued friend Jeremiah Meyer’ and was ‘given also to her Majesty to wear on the little finger of the right hand on this auspicious day’. The Queen also received ‘a diamond hoop ring ... a pair of bracelets, consisting of six rows of picked pearls as large as a full pea; the clasps - one his picture, the other his hair and cipher, both set round with diamonds; necklace with diamond cross; earrings, and the additional ornaments of fashion of the day’.

Mourning Fashion & Jewels During George III

Under the reign of George III (25th of October, 1760 – 29th of January, 1820), mourning jewellery and fashion was…

Memories 04.05.2015
Pendant, gold, set with a cameo under crystal of George I, England, about 1715

Mourning Fashion & Jewels During George I & II

Between 1714 and 1760, the monarchy under George I and George II created a stable and viable mourning industry that…

Memories 15.04.2015
Gold with paper or vellum, iron gall ink, gold wire and glass

Culture, Conflict & Mourning in the 17th & 18th Centuries

Having a basic understanding of monarchies in the early-modern period is essential to judging a jewel and its context. Art…

Collecting 23.03.2015
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Mourning & Sentimental Jewels of the Georgian Era, An Introduction

“It is said to be peculiar to us, that our villages ape, so minutely, the fashions of our cities; that…

Uncategorized 16.03.2015

Hairwork, An Introduction

Often, the question is asked ‘how do I find more out about hairwork jewellery?’ Hair is one of the most…

Rings 02.03.2015
Memorial ring in gold and black enamel, the bezel containing a microphotograph, reversed, of the Prince Consort in 1861, which is attributed to J.J.E. Mayall. The cypher linking the initials 'V' and 'A' in white enamel is set into the shanks on either side of the bezel

Victoria’s Photographic Mourning Ring for Albert, 1861

Love doesn’t require historical importance, nor does it an emotion that requires a single catalyst to happen. It is shared…

Accessories 23.02.2015
This mourning buckle contains panels of woven hair, decorated with an elaborate inscription in gold thread and a small enamelled skull, all set behind rock crystal. The inscription, partly in latin, tells us that the piece commemorates Elizabeth Harman who died on 11 April 1698, aged 27.

Mourning Shoe Buckles and Fashion

As with any piece of fashion accessory, if it could be introduced into the mourning industry, it would be. The…

Rings 18.02.2015
memento mori mourning ring Samuell Nicholets obijt 17 July (1661) Christ is my portion 'Samuel Nicholets died 17 July 1661'

Memento Mori Mourning Ring, Samuel Nicholets, 17 July, 1661

Designs of death in jewellery and art are constantly evolving. Symbolism is the core of of identity in a culture,…

Photography 09.02.2015
Hair crucifix with pearl and its wearer

A Hair Work Crucifix and Primary Sources in Mourning

Primary sources are the ideal way of discovering the history of an object. It removes the supposition, emotion and modernity…

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