Part of me...
English pearl ring with hair inlay, Biedermeier circa 1825
Gifts made of human hair were commonplace in the 18th and 19th centuries. Particularly in the Biedermeier period, family, elective affinities and the circle of friends played a major role - the Romantic era was characterised by particular sensitivity. In this context, pieces of jewellery made of or using hair were created as particularly personal gifts (because hair is, after all, a part of one's own body!) to express an intimate bond. In popular belief, hair is the seat of life force. Whoever possesses a hair from another has power over him. Therefore, whoever gives his hair to another, hands himself over to him, so to speak, and gives him a part of his own body: "A hair ties stronger than the strongest iron cord" is reported in old fairy tales, as one can read in the "Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens" (Dictionary of German Superstition). The simplest form of hair ornament that has survived to this day is the curl in a locket or the braided hair chain that the loving wife gave as a gift to the young husband. The ring presented here reminds us of an intimate friendship through an artfully woven inlay of hair in a frame of pearls. Genuine pearls, soft and shimmering white, frame the approximately 200-year-old hairwork, which is protectively kept behind glass. The delicate ring rail shows delicate engravings on the shoulders and is beautifully preserved - as is the rest of the ring, which found its way to us in London.
Stendhal, the great French novelist of the early 19th century, records in his correspondence with Balzac that men also wore such ornaments made of hair. In 1810, at the height of Napoleon's reign, when the intimidated Austrians had to negotiate an alliance with France in St. Cloud, he was able to observe how the Austrian negotiator Prince von Metternich wore a bracelet made of hair from Caroline Murat, Napoleon's sister. This was a subtle way of expressing his desire for an alliance between the two countries, which a little later sealed Napoleon's marriage to Marie-Louise von Habsburg, the eldest daughter of the Austrian Emperor Francis I. As an irony of history, the disappointed Caroline Murat allied herself with Austria against her brother a little later - the ribbon of hair on Metternich's arm thus bound the two together far more and for longer than they probably first suspected. Cf. Stendhal: Die Kartause von Parma, Munich 2007, commentary, p. 802.
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.