I was contacted by the wife of a distant cousin (Hi Chris) about a piece of jewelry she received that had been in her mother's possession. It was called a mourning ring. There was a name inscribed inside of it with the deceased's death date and age.
She looked all over her family tree and can find no connection to the name and we have both done research to try and find out who this woman was but we have found nothing. Zero.
The custom was to bequeath these rings to your friends and loved ones after your death. They were often made with black stones and had the deceased's woven hair under a piece of crystal. Sometimes pearls were added to symbolize tears.
They also put hair into brooches and necklaces and some created pieces that were all woven hair. Women sometimes had little containers on their dressing tables to hold the hair that they removed from their hair brushes. I think Cass at This Old House has one or told me about them?? I can't remember for sure.
All of these photos are from the Colonial Williamsburg site. They have an amazing site filled with history and genealogy info. I envy those of you who may have visited there.
This ring with the two colors of hair are engraved "George and Martha Washington" and are believed to hold their hair.
Sometimes engraved in these rings were the Latin intials AET that refers age at death or OBT which refers to the date of death.
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