Rings 13.02.2012

Pearl Hairwork Band

Pearl Hairwork Band 1890

In the same vein as the surrounding hair bands, this piece is c1890 and carries a single pearl (tear).

Another fine example of a hairwork band from the late 19th century, this ring particularly shows an individual touch to the style that was standardised at the time.

If you’ve been reading Art of Mourning, you know that the hairwork band was the most popular style from the late 19th century. Between 1870 and 1900, this was not only a design that was popular for its sentimental purposes of love and death, but one that was fashionable as well.

Pearl Hairwork Band 1890

Being widely prolific throughout the world, this band has its origins outside of Britain as it doesn’t carry the correct hallmarks, but these were widely produced along the Continent and especially in the United States.

Incidentally, this was a popular sentimental style during a period that saw a reaction towards the mourning culture that was so ingrained in the Western culture of the time. This was a time that saw a period of perpetual mourning from its monarch, a monarch that would have previously dictated the style for mainstream fashion. This imposition on the culture on the matriarch being the centre of family value and representing the family in mourning, regardless of the immediate death was beginning to be challenged.

More can be read about those values and the change in late Victorian culture in the links below, however, this band represents a style that defies the common nature for what was popular at the time. Notice the way the band shows the hairwork. Rather than being simply a straight opening for the hair, it has an oval shape with the dual holes showing the hairwork underneath. The pearl on top is the popular gypsy-set style of the late 19th century and the surrounding acanthus design, reflecting the natural Rococo Revival period is seen in the oval hollows of the hairwork.

All in all, we can suggest that this ring was a fine example of the late 19th century hairwork bands and for the new collector, this is the ideal with which to reach.

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama
Year: c. 1890

Further Reading:
Knowing Your Fashion, Mourning Fashion in the 17th-19th Centuries