Mourning in the time of George IV.

Antique mourning ring for J. Simmonds in gold, enamel & hair, dated 1816

It is a rare stroke of luck for the antique jeweller and art historian to be able to offer a piece of jewellery that reveals a date by means of an engraving on the inside: in this way, there is a clue that allows us to establish the time of its creation. In the case of this ring, it is the date of 1 July 1816, and so the ring takes us back to the time of King George IV, who simultaneously ruled the kingdoms of Hanover and Great Britain. The present ring is a classic piece of mourning jewellery of that era. On a tripartite and detailed ring band of gossamer gold, centered with a leaf element, we see a cushion-shaped field. Here, behind glass, braided hair is inset and a black and a white frame of enamel surround this inlay of hair. Centrally on the braiding we see the initials J and S sawn out of gold. The intricately braided locks are a final memento of a person. The engraving on the underside of the ring's head also transmits the person's name: "J. Simmonds / ob[iit]. July 1, 1816 / aet[atis suae] 64" we read here in bold letters. So we know that J. Simmonds was 64 years old when he or she died on 1 July 1816. The ring we have discovered for you in London shows a beautiful quality of its craftsmanship and touches quite directly through its personal message.

In her publication on Biedermeier jewellery, Munich 1983, on p. 208, Brigitte Marquardt illustrates some pieces of jewellery of the commemorative culture of the 19th century, some of which are made of human hair, and explains their meaning: The processing of hair into pieces of jewellery is based on the meaning of hair as a part of the whole human being, which through its durability is, as it were, immortal. In popular belief, the hair is the seat of the life force.

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.


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.