MOURNING JEWELLERY Mourning or memorial jewellery has been worn since the middle ages and became popular in the 15th and 16th century in England.
Until the 18th century it generally consisted of gold and black enamel with early examples in black and white often in the form of a skull.
From 1770, forms became lighter and more graceful, often incorporating hair in their designs.In the early 18th century fine scrolled rings were made with white enamel for a single person and black for a married person.
The deceased name age and date of birth and death were written around the shank of the ring.A loved ones hair was plaited and set under the crystal or glass on the back of a brooch or ribbon slide.
At the end of the 18th century rings and brooches depicted funereal urns and ivory plaques in blue black or white enamel set with diamonds ,pastes ,pearls etc.
During and after the Regency period, chains ,rings, pendants and brooches were made from finely plaited hair from the head of the deceased.
In the 19th century with the demise of Prince Albert in 1861,mourning dress was worn by a widow for a year and a day, followed by 9 months of half mourning
Favourite symbols used in mourning jewellery included forget-me-nots, flowers, hearts, crosses, and ivy leaves, these replaced the earlier more macabre symbols of skulls, coffins, and gravestones.
Many memorial pieces bear the inscription "in memory of".Jet jewellery made from fossilized wood was an acceptable commodity often worn for mourning and coral and pearls were allowed at court as half mourning jewellery,stained horn, bog oak and black glass known as French jet were also used
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