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 Post subject: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:19 pm 
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Hi,

I'm hoping you all can help me identify the era of this mourning ring. The face of the ring looks to me to be Georgian (1714-1836) in style - it has seed pearl/blue guilloche enamel border surrounding hair behind a glass window. It appears to be a true mourning ring (not a brooch conversion) because the face has a concaved back to accommodate a finger. It's the shank that is making me a little unsure of the era. It doesn't look to me to be typically Georgian in style and it is hallmarked '9CT' (hallmarks were not commonly used in the Georgian era).

Does anyone else have any thoughts? Replacement shank maybe? Or could it be a later Georgian style? Or (hopefully not) reproduction?

Cheers,

Shelley


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:55 am 
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Need a little more information.
Can you post a better picture of the enamel?
It does not appear to be Guilloché.
It appears that the center is hair under glass. Typical funerary momento with the exception that it appears the hair hasn't been worked. Can you post a pic of the hair?
Thanks.

Oh, yeah....the shank looks like it was added later.
Can you test the karatage of the gold on the crown?


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:35 pm 
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To me the seed pearls and enamel surrounding looks very, very regular, for an early time Georgian memento mori or mourning or sentimental ring.
And 9ct - did they use 9 ct gold at this time ? I doubt.
As Barbra said, it would be good to check the alloy on other places than the shank.
It may very well be a later imitation, after the older fashion.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:07 pm 
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Notice the silvery solder line between the top piece and shank and lower collar? Looks like someone used a bit of low-temp solder (can you say "plumber's solder"?) to add the lower piece.

9CT is a British Commonwealth thing. Not sure how long back it goes, but the "CT" instead of "K" is distinctive. They are the ones known for 9 CT jewelry.

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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:56 pm 
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Thanks all for your input - it'e been very helpful.

So I've done a bit more digging...and I'm only more confused. I acid tested both the gold on the shank and the gold on the face (I can only access the gold at the outer rim of the pearls). They both test as the same caratage...but it's 14-18ct rather than 9ct.

The glass panel is also in very good condition for something of the Georgian age, with only minor scratches.

I'm mystified. The shank clearly seems to not be original. I suspect the whole ring may be 'Georgian-style' rather than true Georgian. But why on earth would the ring be hallmarked as a lower carat gold?


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:18 pm 
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The ring is not hallmarked....it is stamped with a quality stamp.
Who knows what's going on with it?

Please post pictures of the hair under glass and the enameling surrounding it.

Often, these items were never intended to be worn. They were commemorative and often handed out to the bereaved at funerals.

Hair jewelry was has been dated from around 1650-1900, but it flourished in the Victorian Era (in Britain after the death of Albert), and in the United States, during our Civil War.

HairWorks was one of the first mail order businesses in the US.
Magazines would sell kits with instructions for weaving, pluming, etc. It was a table-top parlor pastime, similar to tatting. You could even order human hair from them if it was needed.

When a project was completed, the HairWorks company offered jewelry pieces at various price points they could be incorporated into.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:25 pm 
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Hello Shelley:

Pretty ring, but it appears to be a bit of a mixed bag. While the lead solder repair is unfortunate, it would totally be consistent with someone getting the ring caught on something. The enamel would have prevented the use of solders with higher melting points. Assuming that the ring is British, 9ct gold was legislated for use in 1854, so a bit late for Georgian. The "ct" stamp is correct and I see it frequently. I can't speak to why other parts of the ring are testing as higher karat, but unusual for sure. You are correct regarding the replaced ring shank. The porosity in the shoulder photo is one clue. The squared-off-shape of the shank is another clue. An older shank would be more half-round-shaped with more wear. I also agree with the comment on the consistency and setting of the pearls. Overall, from the 3 photos, this looks to more of a later Victorian piece with a re-shank. Even though this a sentimental hair piece, it is not old enough and is not the correct motif to be considered "momento mori", (1500-1700's).


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:31 pm 
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Thanks, Julie.
Excellent post.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:19 am 
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Clearly the ring is a mixed bag, I would say the enamel and pearls point to a Georgian date, and the fact that the pearls are not worn would indicate that the head was not originally a ring. As has been pointed out, 9 carat was not introduced until 1854, but it was (is) still required to be hallmarked. Makers taking the risk of stamping items "9 ct" is a late 20th century thing (selling a gold item heavier than 1 gram that is not hallmarked is a criminal offence). In addition there is the problem of the hair not being worked, which in a quality item, as indicated by the enamel and pearls, would certainly have been the case. As a clincher, the lead solder indicates that the shank was attached later, to the finished head, so as not to damage the pearls or enamel. So, I would say that we probably have a genuine piece of mourning jewellery, possibly originally a pendant or brooch. It looks like someone has removed the original worked hair and substituted unworked hair (look for damage around the bezel), then had it altered into a ring.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:35 pm 
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Barbra Voltaire wrote:
Can you post a better picture of the enamel?
It does not appear to be Guilloché.
It appears that the center is hair under glass. Can you post a pic of the hair?
Thanks


Please take a couple minutes to post what I asked for. This is an educational platform and needs cooperation from both sides.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:57 am 
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Quite right Barbra, better photos would help enormously.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:07 am 
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Here you go. Hopefully this gives a better view:


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:00 pm 
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Enamel over Champ-levee. Almost certainly pre 1800. Now look for signs of damage around the bezel and the marks on the rim which would indicate whether it was a brooch or a pendant.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:18 pm 
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I disagree Alan.
I think it is much more contemporary.


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 Post subject: Re: Georgian era mourning ring - newer shank?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:38 pm 
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Thank you so much for your opinions and expertise. It's very enlightening, especially for a novice like myself.

Alan, I'm fairly confident that this piece has always been a ring (rather than a brooch), only because it has a concave shaped backing at the rear of the face that conforms to the shape of a finger (you can get a good view of this in the first photo).

The style of the face certainly seems Georgian, but the condition of the glass really has me doubting this. The glass is very exposed - its dome sits high above the ring face and is prone to wear and tear. Despite this, it only has fairly minor scratches and abrasion. I have a Victorian piece with glass that much less exposed than this, but much more abrasion apparent. For a piece of Georgian age to have glass this pristine, it must only have been worn infrequently, or the glass must be replacement. Is this likely? Is bespoke replacement glass something that a present day jeweller could make?

To remove the hair from behind the glass, you simply wiggle the glass panel until it comes out. It is not particularly secure, and I would suspect in a piece of Georgian age that it could have fallen out and been lost or damaged at some stage.

Barbra, when you say you think this piece is of much more recent origins, do you have an era in mind? Victorian? Or a modern reproduction maybe? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Cheers,

Shelley


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