1799 Georgian Mourning Ring with Foiled Garnet & Pearl Halo

A dramatic and gorgeous Georgian ring, datable by inscription to the year 1799, with a ring face set with a large 4.5 carat foiled almandine garnet cabochon framed by a halo of natural saltwater pearls, all mounted on a wide band of 14k rose gold. The closed back ring face reverse bears the following inscription:

Martha Hirst
Ob. 26 June
Æ 80

While the arrangement of this ring — with its foiled gemstone surrounded by a halo of pearls and mounted within cut-down collet settings — was a popular Georgian design and not necessarily associated with mourning, the original owner of this ring nonetheless chose it to commemorate the passing of his/her mother at the age of 80 (a very good, ripe old age by Georgian standards!). In missing the conventional features of mourning rings (ring face or compartment with hair, black enamel work, etc), this ring served a double purpose: the wearer enjoyed the ring as an attractive piece of jewelry in its own right, all while carrying the mourning message via the discreet inscription to the ring face underside.

Foiling is a special gem setting feature that almost entirely disappeared after the Georgian era, when improved gem cutting techniques made the need for foiling obsolete and open-back settings became the new norm. Enclosed against textured flakes of silver and gold, foiled gemstones possess an undeniable charm; under direct lighting, this ring’s almandine garnet literally glows afire.

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Date: 1799 (inscribed)

Size: USA 7, UK N, EU 54

Materials: solid 14k rose gold (acid tested), garnet, natural saltwater pearls

Weight: 4.7 grams

Diameter of garnet cabochon: 10 mm (approximately 4.5 carats)

Diameter of ring face: 16 mm

Width of shank: 3.6 – 9 mm

Thickness of shank: 0.5 – 0.6 mm

Condition: great antique condition, with the following minor flaws:
– the ring has been resized in the past; the back of the shank shows a small area where the gold appears more yellow.
– under magnification, the surface of the garnet cabochon shows a few tiny pin-sized scratches, and one shallow scratch of about 1 mm