You may not know but jewellery and trinkets containing the hair of deceased people were quite a popular theme in many parts of the world. BBC’s One’s Antiques Roadshow has often showcased lockets and trinkets with various important ‘memories’ from the past.
Sometimes, these memories happen to be something from the deceased person’s body; most commonly, hair. In one of the Antiques Roadshow, viewers were left grossed out after seeing a human hair containing ring on the roster. The ring, and human hair, are reportedly 250 years old.
The mourning ring was taken out for valuation by the Antiques Roadshow team. According to the engraving on the ring, it belonged to someone named Anne Gratton in 1787. It was brought to the show because the current owner no longer felt comfortable keeping it in their possession and wanted the ring to be returned to the rightful owners (possible descendants of the person).
The owner jewellery expert John Benjamin spoke to the BBC show and said, “My mother picked it up at an antique fair many years ago and I inherited it.” In an explanation about the hair that the ring contains, Benjamin said this may be new or “disgusting” for some viewers but it is not unusual in any way.
This isn’t the first time a hair-embedded jewellery piece has been brought to Antiques Roadshow. Once, the show featured a ring that reportedly had famous author Charlotte Brontë’s hair embedded.A woman in Erddig, North Wales, brought the ring to the show and said it belonged to her late father-in-law. The engraving on the ring featured the author’s name and date of death in 1855. In this showcase, jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn expressed the same sentiments as Benjamin. He said there was “very little reason to doubt” to the authenticity of the ring. “It was a convention to make jewellery out of hair in the 19th century. There was a terror of not being able to remember the face and character of the person who had died,” he said.
The Antiques Roadshow is a BBC-PBS program that’s been running since 1979. People from various walks of life bring antique items and art pieces so they can get it appraised by experts on the show.