This is a superb, 18 karat gold English Georgian mourning ring, dated 1798. The band is beautifully decorated with white and black champleve enamel. The lettering reads : Stephen Ratlcliff O.B :10 Nov :1798 :AE46. This literally translates to : Stephen Ratcliff, born in 1752 and died at the age of 45 in 1798. O.B derives from the Latin word "obitus" meaning death and AET indicating the actual age of death.
Mourning rings were given as a token of remembrance to family and friends upon death. The wealthy would have a jeweler of choice create these beautiful pieces , several at a time. The colors were symbolic, and the choice of white enamel used to indicate that the person was unmarried or widowed at the time of death.
A fellow collector was kind enough to give me the following information. Stephen Ratcliff was a victualler(licensed to sell alcoholic beverages) in Canterbury during the years 1780-1790. Stephen's Inn was on Beercart Lane (still in existence with some old coach buildings.) Stephen married Rebecca Andrews on July 19 1777. They had one son, John born in 1780. Stephen is buried at St. Margaret's in Canterbury.
This particular ring is in amazingly, fine condition without any damage. The enamel work is as fine as the simplicity of the the design. These rings have now become so popular, not just for the history they represent but for the artistry of the piece. Beautiful worn alone and especially charming stacked with other bands.
It is a size 8 1/2 US and cannot be sized. as some of the enamel work would be lost. I wear these bands stacked with other gold bands, as it is understated and unique.
Full English hallmarks on the interior.
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Unique Antique Jewelry Through the Centuries
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