Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mourning Ring

Probably made in New York, New York, United States
Gold, enamel, glass, hair
Diam. 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, 1941
Accession Number:
Not on view
Mourning jewelry—jewelry that commemorates the dead—was commonly commissioned by early American colonists upon the loss of friends or loved ones. On this ring gold letters highlighted by black enamel wrap around the band and spell out "CAT.D.PEYSTER: OB 8. DEC. 1733 AE 69." The band supports a bezel containing a coffin-shaped table cut diamond. A piece of human hair, most likely belonging to the deceased, is visible through the large table facet of the diamond. Another inscription is present on the inside of the band, and reads "ADP * obiit 2 Aug * 1728 AE 71." The two obituaries likely refer to Abraham and Catherine De Peyster, a prominent New Amsterdam couple. While mourning rings featuring 'memento mori' symbols, such as coffins, skeletons, or hourglasses, were popular through the mid-eighteenth century, eventually more euphemistic imagery, such as weeping willow trees and draped urns, became more standard iconographical motifs in mourning jewelry.
Inscription: inscribed outside hoop: CAT.D.PEYSTER: OB 8. DEC. 1733 AE 69; inscribed inside band: A P + C P;scratched inside band: CH WH; inscribed inside band: ADP [asterisk] obiit 2 Aug [asterisk] 1728 AE 71
Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, New York, until 1941
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