Rings 03.02.2012

1888 Scottish Hairwork Band in Original Box

Scottish Sentimental Hairwork Ring in Box

An excellent example of love tokens from the time. Still in its original heart shaped box, this ring is a memento to a lover. From the 1880s onwards, bands like this become lighter in their weight, much different from the early to mid 1870s pieces.

The provenance of jewellery can often be a difficult thing to discern, especially in mass produced jewels, such as many of the memorial and sentimental tokens. When a collector is looking a piece for the first time, it’s not often the first thing that springs to the imagination; often quality, damage/repair or age come to mind. But it is important to try and find more about where the piece had its origin, as pieces like this tended to travel globally and the specific point of its creation is incidental. Many pieces made in the UK found their way to the USA and colonies, as well as French or Eastern European pieces moving around in the same manner.

As this piece still retains its original box, it carries the dual sentiment of having the inscription to the loved one and the maker as well. How else can a collector find the origin of a piece? For the 18th and 19th centuries, hallmarking and the various reference books that work to discover the stamps inside a jewel make dating years, import and export marks and makers marks in silver and gold quite a simple piece of research. Indeed, for a new collector, owning a copy of Jackson’s Hallmarks and a good loupe is essential. Many of the marks have been lost on jewels, through resizing, wear and lower grades of gold content used to produce cheaper pieces post the 1854 Hallmarking Act.

Another benefit of this is that much of the memorial and sentimental jewels have their origins in the UK, where Hallmarking was (and still is) legislation.

So, if you’re keen on the jewels and don’t have a copy, go find Jackson’s Hallmarks and go hunting!

Country: Scotland (A. Struthers, 54 Leith St, Edinburgh)
Year: 1888

Resource Link > Jackson’s Hallmarks

Further Reading:
> Essential Mourning and Sentimental Jewellery Books, Part 1
> Essential Mourning and Sentimental Jewellery Books, Part 2