Mourning in the time of George III.

Georgian swivel ring as a memorial ring for David Davidson & M. Duncan, dated 1814 & 1827

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: this gives a clue as to when it must have existed. In the case of the present ring, it is the date of 31 October 1814, and so the ring takes us back to the time of King George III, who simultaneously ruled the kingdoms of Hanover and Great Britain. The present ring is a mourning jewel of that era. On a shank of reddish gold with structured shoulders is a rotating ring head: it is a so-called "swivel ring". One side of the rectangular ring face shows a disc of red carnelian, while on the other side, protected by a crystal disc, is a field of braided hair surrounded by faceted onyx stones. The artfully braided locks are a final memento of a loved one - in our case, there are actually two people, as the different hair colours indicate. Engravings also tell us the names of both people: "Da[vid] Davidson, Aet[ais suae] 72, Ob[iit] 31 Oct[ober] 1814" we read here in bold letters in the ring rail, while all around the ring head the engraving "M. Duncan, Ob[iit] 23 Oct[ober] 1827 Aet[ais suae] 77" can be found. This is to commemorate David Davidson who died in his 72nd year on 31 October 1814 and M. Duncan who died at the age of 77 on 23 October 1827. Presumably the ring was reworked in 1827 so that it could serve the memory of both persons. Unfortunately, it will probably forever remain hidden in the darkness of history who the persons were, what their relationship was and who ultimately commissioned the ring. The ring, which we have discovered for you in London, gives an intimate insight into a bygone era and touches us with its symbolism to this day.

In her publication on Biedermeier jewellery, Munich 1983, on p. 208, Brigitte Marquardt reproduces 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 is, as it were, immortal due to its durability. In popular belief, 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.