A mourning ring is a finger ring worn in memory of someone who has died. It often bears the name and date of death of the person, and possibly an image of them, or a motto. They were usually paid for by the person commemorated, or their heirs, and often specified, along with the list of intended recipients, in wills. Any stone is usually in black, typically Jet stone. White enamel was used on occasion particularly where the deceased was a child. They were popular in Victorian times, and earlier; such as this example of a ring commemorating Jeremy Bentham. In some cases a lock of hair of the deceased person would be incorporated into the ring.
By the mid 18th century jewelers had started to advertise the speed with which such rings could be made. The style largely settled upon was a single small stone with the deceased's particulars recorded in enamel on the hoop.
Some people whose bequeathing of mourning rings is described in their article
- Cesar Picton, d. 1836, bequeathing 16 rings
- Sir Anthony Browne
- Col. Nicholas Spencer
- William Shakespeare (mourning rings cited in Shakespeare authorship question)
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