Memento mori ring

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 Memento Mori Swivel Ring - England, 16th century

Designs of death in jewellery and art are constantly evolving. Symbolism is the core of identity in a culture, being the basic interpretations of value. When there are times of turmoil, the fact of death becomes more immediate in designs, which this memento mori ring displays in its values.

The concept of death being a factor that can happen at any moment is a message to the wearer or viewer of the symbol that life must be savoured to the moment and that final judgement awaits all. It is part an ecclesiastical statement as well as one of the intellectual and aristocratic, who could afford to adorn themselves with the memento mori symbolism. 

This ring is a perfect representation of symbolism predominant in 16th century. On one side is a skull enamelled white; on the other side is a merchant's mark and monogram. Surrounding the swivel plate, the bezel is inscribed with "+MORS BONIS *GRATA", which translates to "Death is pleasing to the good" 

Memento mori and its adaptation into jewellery and accessories is a unique look into how human behaviour and identity. 

On display at the British Museum in London 





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