Life before Skype

It may not be our most wearable piece but this ring is beautiful and charming and is greatly admired by our customers.



It’s a Georgian portrait ring, circa 1820 which contains a miniature painting of a young girl.

Lots of people have admired it, and a few have considered buying it but they have all decided against on the grounds that they can’t wear it everyday. 

The trouble is people expect different things from their jewellery nowadays. Most of our customers want maximum wear for minimum effort. They don’t want to spend thousands on a piece of jewellery that they can only wear on high days and holidays. 

When this ring was made life was very different. Everyone knows these portable portraits were the first incarnation of the wallet photo which has since been replaced by mobile phones and icloud. We own thousands of pictures of our loved ones, but it’s quite likely this portrait was the only image possessed by the original owner of this ring and would have been greatly treasured. Personally, I think it was probably a gentleman; mainly due to the size of the ring. It’s possible that the shank has been replaced at some point but the size is still large for a woman of that era. The portrait was likely painted specifically to be set in this ring and may be 10 years or so later due to the style of dress the girl is wearing. The pink of the bodice is reflected in the blush of her cheeks and her blonde hair and blue eyes give her a charming appeal. It’s also probable that the identity of the subject and/or the artist may be written on the back of the picture. Unfortunately it would be risky to tamper with the glass so we have left the secrets of the ring’s history hidden within.

She is certainly very attractive and was undoubtedly a great love of the wearer although we may never know what form of love this was – either suitor, guardian or friend. The portrait has been beautifully and painstakingly executed. It is hard to imagine only having one image of your loved one when we are so used to uploading holiday photos on facebook and chatting to loved ones via webcam. How many times was this portrait gazed at? And how long were the owner and subject apart?

I must admit I’m slightly disinterested in galleries, but these tiny artworks really resonate with my hopeless romantic side. I could quite easily find a home for a ring like this (and consequently, no doubt others like it!) It survived this long specifically because it was treasured and not worn during mundane chores like shopping and washing up. So for the time being we have become it’s guardians, at least until someone else falls as in love with it as the original owner did all those years ago. Pieces like these always find the right person the end.

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