search_icon 0

17th Century "Pumpkin Head" Memento Mori Skull Ring


17th Century "Pumpkin Head" Memento Mori Skull Ring



DATE: 17th Century, 1671

An outstanding 17th century Memento Mori ring with stylized skull engraved on the outer band. The skull, quite remarkably, retains a good deal of the original black enamel - we've never handled an example of this kind with the enamel intact. The inscription to the inner band reads: WL ob. 11th Nov 1671 (read: W.L. died on the 11th of November in the year 1671). This particular style of skull is known in the trade as a "pumpkin head", characterised cartoonish features and bulbous shape - it was the common representation of the skull before the more realistic depictions associated appeared with later Memento Mori jewellery. The ring is crafted in 22k yellow gold with the most gorgeous matte patina.

The concept of Memento Mori, remember that you will die, has been around since ancient times, indeed, probably for as long as humans have existed. Throughout all of history philosophers, kings, and common folk have reflected on the brevity of life: The Greek Stoic Epictetus told his students that when kissing their child, brother, or friend, they should remind themselves that they are mortal as do "those who stand behind men in their triumphs and remind them that they are mortal". Whilst to us wearing jewellery that constantly reminds you (and those around you) that someday we all must die might seem somewhat... jarring... to our modern sensibilities, people in bygone eras, especially the 16th through 19th centuries, had a much more overt relationship with death and mortality. 


Width of band: 3.7mm




No marks present, tests as 22k gold (minimum)


Very good, some loss to the enamel. Fine antique patina


More From This Era