Adapting Styles in Mourning Bands, c.1820

December 2, 2011

Gothic mourning ring

Adapting bands to mainstream styles in mourning jewellery is essential to their continued existence. As we’ve discovered with the Catherine Mary Walpole band, which adapted the bold, clean styling of the Neoclassical period and adapted a hairwork memento on top, this ring veers to the other end of the mainstream scale. With the Gothic Revival period taking dominance c.1820, rings such as this would become common and highly produced.

Produced in such numbers that there are degrees of quality in these particular bands. As often with changing styles in jewels, the earlier styles show a high level of quality; their breaking new fashion and worn as such. Bands, being a simple and clear dedication of mourning, were produced in numbers for funerals and given to friends and family, hence as the custom became more of a necessity, base metal pieces were handed out with simplistic construction methods. Indeed, the nature of the band with ‘in memory of’ and a simple inscription avoided too much customisation in construction.

Broken gothic mourning band ring

In this above piece, the shoulders with the floral edging so common in the Gothic Revival period are slid over an inner tube of the ring. Much of this has broken apart over the years, causing heavy loss to the brittle enamel.

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