memento mori

Antique Classicism Diamond Ring in Silver & Gold, circa 1790

An urn of silver and diamonds sparkles in front of a midnight blue background. Mysterious and cool is its sight, as if only a pale moon shines in a lonely night. A frame of further diamonds in silver frames the depiction. A rail of gold turns the work into a ring. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, jewelry was a central part of ritualized mourning. Self-devouring serpents as a sign of endless time, magnificently designed urns, inlays of hair and small painted miniatures of mourning priestesses, sorrowful doves and weeping willows populated rings and brooches in great numbers. Mostly they commemorated an individual loss. But sometimes such jewellery was also worn without a specific occasion, as memento mori or vanitas jewellery, intended to remind us of the fundamental finiteness of life and to remind us to consciously enjoy life until then. The ring here, unlike most others, bears no individual engraving commemorating a specific person. Rather, the urn seems to refer to the transience of all life, in keeping with the Latin wisdom "Quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem" - "Whatever you do, act wisely and consider the end." "Respice finem" - this can also be translated as "consider the outcome of your actions." And so it is not death alone that should guide one's actions, but the consideration of the consequences of one's actions already in life. Diamonds, as the hardest material on earth, are used here as symbols of an eternal memory, a never-ending cycle of life and death. The discovery of larger diamond deposits in Brazil in 1725 led to the fact that now also many rich citizens could afford diamonds and the possession of these precious stones was no longer the exclusive privilege of kings and nobles, as before that time without exception the case. The ring of the years around 1790 is very well preserved. Worn with care, it may still be a good advisor today. Cf. on corresponding jewelry Ginny Redington Dawas/Olivia Collings: Georgian Jewelry 1714-1830, Woodbridge 2007, p. 162. and p. 164, also Gisela Zick: Gedenke mein. Freundschafts- und Memorialschmuck 1770-1870, Dortmund 1980, pl. 32, and Diana Scarisbrick: Rings. Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty, London 2007, p. 176f.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


OUR PROMISE

We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

Play