Joe’s Special Box – Volume 103

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and A Collector’s Things

For hundreds of years, we have sought solace after the loss of a loved one in a myriad of ways.  Often, a piece of jewelry was kept as a token to be worn and treasured… mourning jewelry.  In the Georgian era (the early 1800’s), the pieces were more macabre, focusing on the “Memento Mori” sentiment.  This phrase was a reminder that we are mortals and will all die.  Skulls, coffins, and shovels were popular and used frequently.

Later on, in Victorian times, mourning jewelry was much more personal, often memorializing a particular individual.  Tombs, angels, and urns were prominent motifs, like this one.  Made of 14 karat rosy gold and silver, this pendant is truly extraordinary.  Joe described it as very fine, one of the best he’s ever seen.  Depicting an urn, the surface is covered with a layer of black enamel, symbolic of the loss of light and life.  Hand wired handles are on each side, with additional wire detailing on the bail and body of the vase.  

Seventy-four natural seed pearls add a dimension of beauty and are thought to represent the tears shed by those left behind.  A singular rose cut diamond is set in the center, nearly fading into the background.  Another common element of mourning jewelry was a locket, or hair receiver.  Frequently these compartments featured a glass lid and provided a place to store a lock of hair.  

In near perfect condition, this pendant is tragically beautiful.  Perhaps even now, nearly 150 years after it’s creation, it can bring comfort to someone today.  Priced at $3,800.00 – this is one memento worth saving.

“You can go to a museum and look, or come to Joden and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Dana Jerpe

Joe’s Special Box – Volume 48

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and A Collector’s Things

There’s just something about Persian Turquoise…  the color of summer skies and crystal clear Caribbean waters; a bright spot on a dreary day.  This cheerful stone was the darling of jewelers in the 1800’s.  Albert and Victoria gifted it to the train bearers and ladies in waiting in their wedding ceremony in the form of bird brooches and tiny portrait rings.  The stone was considered by many to be a talisman.  Turquoise was believed to protect the wearer against a myriad of things including poisoning and falling off your horse! 


This charming bracelet was crafted at the end of the 19th century making it a crossover piece between the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of Art Nouveau.  Handmade from a rich 18 karat yellow gold, this piece is super sweet.  The main portion consists of two matching strands of woven chain.  They create a series of five love knots, each one decorated with a bezel set oval turquoise.  The love knot was a prevalent theme in vintage jewelry – symbolizing a love that lasts forever and cannot be untied.  The center knot features an intricately etched heart charm with a turquoise flower.  My favorite part of the bracelet is the hair receiver on the back of the heart…  complete with a lock of dark hair still coiled inside… so romantic.  The bracelet is in mint condition and priced at $2750.00.  When you come to see it, be sure to mention that it’s in Joe’s Special Box.  

“You can go to a museum and look, or come to us and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Dana Jerpe

Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and a Mourning Ring

On Sunday morning, October 20th, 1839, John Gwynne bid farewell to his beloved wife of 26 years – Arabella.  Sometime thereafter, he had this heartbreakingly beautiful memorial ring made for himself.  

Each detail is a tribute to her life beginning with the hard stone cameo center.  This small oval black and white agate has been hand-carved with a ceremonial urn sitting beneath a weeping willow – echoing the grief that John must surely have been feeling.  The segmented band of the ring bears the words “In Memory Of”…  each bright yellow letter a sharp contrast to the matte black enamel background.  


Perhaps the most touching aspects of this dedication are on the inside – situated behind the center section is a hair receiver, carefully filled with a lock of braided chestnut colored hair.  Engraved in two rows are these words:  “In memory of Ararbella Gwynne the beloved wife of John Gwynne, Esq. who died on Sunday morn. Oct 20, 1839.  Aged 77”.  I can picture his wrinkled and aged hands holding her plait, and tenderly cutting a bit of it to be forever preserved beneath the glass.   


This is the only men’s mourning ring I have ever seen.  I found it to be terribly romantic, so much so that I was inspired to do a bit of research.  After many, many rounds of Google-ing, I was able to locate a trio of books as well as a website or two that list these two Plantagenets….

I uncovered three excerpts of interest (shown here…  in the order in which I discovered them).


I was both surprised and delighted to find any bits of information – imagine my excitement when I saw that John Gwynne is a direct descendant of King Edward, III!  Royalty, indeed.  I was also able to discern that they were married in 1813 – making Arabella a 51 year-old bride.  Perhaps it was a second marriage, or perhaps she had waited all those years for true love.  They had 26 years together.  John passed 13 years after his wife in 1852.  The ring is in quite good condition (especially for its age) – however, the enamel is chipped along the back side of the ring.  I like to think its because it was worn…  every day.  And that it brought John comfort to know that part of Arabella was still with him while part of her was waiting…  beneath the weeping willow.

“Oh bury me under the weeping willow

Yes, under the weeping willow tree

So he may know where I am sleeping

And perhaps he will weep for me.”

lyrics credited to The Carter Family

I hope you’ve enjoyed the story of John and Ararbella Gwynne as much as I enjoyed discovering it.  Come to Joden to see this rare royal treasure for yourself, and click on the newsletter link below to have Joden Girl delivered straight to your inbox.  

“Go to our site and look, then come to Joden and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Shelly Isacco and Carrie Martin

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