Lasting memory

Antique memorial ring with miniature in gold, dated 1778

Memorial rings were a typically British custom, evidenced since the 14th century; however, the tradition became most widespread in the 18th century. It was not the wearer who ordered the jewellery to be made, but the family of the deceased. Often the deceased had already specified in his will how many mourning rings were to be made and to which invited guests they were to be distributed; in some cases they were already made during the deceased's lifetime in the event of prolonged illness. Depending on the rank of the invited and their closeness to the deceased, the rings could be equipped with different splendour. The present memorial ring with its design, which sets an oval miniature against a narrow shank, belongs to a special type of commemorative ring of which we mainly know examples from the 1770s - even memorial jewellery was subject to fashion to a certain extent. In gold letters raised above the black enamel we read here the name and dates of death of a Geo(rge) Furbank, who died on 30 July 1778 at the age of only 37. The executing goldsmith had to make or personalize these rings in a very short time after his death. The black enamel attests to the fact that George Furbank was a married man, while the urn is a motif found in many commemorative jewels of the period and was probably ordered in stock from miniaturists and personalized if necessary to ensure production at short notice. In rich, high karat gold, the ring still shines as it did on the first day, and the enamel has also survived very well. Only the miniature has faded over the years, bearing witness to the passage of time, of which George Furbank's survivors were so clearly aware.

For further reading on the subject of memorial rings, we recommend Linnebach, Andrea: "Remember Me". Englische Memento-mori- und Gedenkringe als letztwillige Verfügung, in: Trauerschmuck vom Barock bis zum Art Déco, Museum für Sepulkralkultur Kassel, 1996, pp. 21-27.

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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.

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