Mourning Ring


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 cut glass. A piece of human hair, most likely belonging to the deceased, is visible below. 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.

Mourning Ring, Gold, enamel, glass, hair, American

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