Saturday, March 6, 2010


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.

Do you have any of these heirlooms in your home? Can you share any information or history about them?

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My Grama's Soul said...

I so love it when you can educate me a little further regarding ancestory items. No....I'm not fortunate enough to have anything so nice...but I have seen mourning brooches for sale on various sites on the net.

Thank you for sharing this with us today.



Flory said...

amazing treasure... I believe we also have some heirlooms still under possession of my grandma.. I wish I could share it with you too!