Mourning Ring with Urn
This delicate gold “mourning ring” is fitted with a diamond-studded bezel shaped like an urn to commemorate a loved one. Diamonds in silver settings decorate the lid, foot, and central band of the urn, which is painted with white enameled arcading. The flat hoop terminates in gold “s” shapes that form the handles of the urn. The interior is plain, and the shoulder is decorated with acanthus. White enameled scroll-like sections embellish the exterior, which displays an inlaid inscription in gold capital letters: “L’AMITIE LA DONNE” (friendship gives). The ring is in good, wearable condition; the enamel shows signs of wear through age.
Mourning rings such as this were common from the early seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. Wills of this era often allocated funds for commemorative rings destined sfor family and friends. In the later eighteenth century, neoclassical designs with funerary symbols – such as urns, pillars, and mourning figures – came into fashion. The inscription on this ring expresses a personal message of love and friendship that transcends death. The use of white enamel may indicate an unmarried adult.
The urn motif appears in many variations on mourning rings, for example with pavé-set diamonds (Scarisbrick 2007, fig. 235) or in white enamel set in an oval bezel containing the hair of the deceased (Chadour 1994, vol. 1, no. 980 with further parallels). Similarly designed rings are found in the British Museum, London (Dalton 1912, no. 1583 with date of deceased 1773) and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford bordered by amethysts (Scarisbrick/Henig 2003, p. 4, pl. 24, dated 1755; Scarisbrick 1993, pp. 140-41).