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Antique Gold Memento Mori Skeleton Ring of 1747


Memento mori is a Latin phrase which literally means, “remember that you must die”. This term has been applied to a number of forms of jewelry fashioned to advise those alive to live each moment to the fullest and keep sacred the memory of those gone before.

Flourishing in the late 17th to mid 18th century, these reminders of the transitory nature of life morphed into what we now refer to as sentimental jewelry of two types: a memorial theme and the other of a sweeter more affectionate nature. Later on this type of ring developed into a form of memorial jewelry inscribed with the name and date of the passing of a person.

A rare piece, the 4 mm ring is 18k yellow gold (or slightly higher) and is covered in black enamel. Across the expanse of the ring is a depiction of a full skeleton. The image detail is remarkable with the design around the eye and the intimate attention paid to the skull set up to connote a slightly upturn of the head. Please note that even the feet are carefully defined to include the numerous little bones.

Additional symbols associated with this type of jewelry – tools of a grave digger, an hour glass and cross bones – are represented on the surface of the ring. In later tradition of the memento mori ring the date and age of passing are inscribed to the interior as “Alex Burden ob 26 Sept 1747 aet 36”. This means he died on September 26th in 1747 at age 36. The engraving remains crisp and fine after more than 250 years.

Date: Circa 1747.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 1/8 of an inch (0.3 cm) in length north to south on the hand. Weight of 2.5 grams (1.6 dwt).

Ring Size: US 6-1/4 (UK M; Euro or Int. Circum. 52.5 mm; Int. Dia. 16.7 mm; Japan 12). This ring cannot be sized up but can be sized down only by using inserts. Contact us for more details.

Condition: Very good for its age, Enamel worn is some spots although all areas are still showing black. This can restored if desired. Please contact us for more details.

Origin: English.

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