The Shop at 49 Grove Street

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Sad Story With a Happy Ending...

Last Thanksgiving, Lori traveled to London with friends for a holiday and a bit of vintage jewelry shopping. When she returned from her trip, we Shopkids were awed by the amazing pieces that she brought back: Victorian, Edwardian and Deco lockets, charms and rings! We oooed and ahhed at the intricate detail of the lockets, wondering about the stories behind the photographs in them. We swooned over the diamonds and gabbed about the images depicted in the signet rings.

At LMc, we find jewelry hallmarks and stamps fascinating because they give us clues about the history of a piece. They can tell us the year and place that a piece of jewelry was made, the family that the piece was made for and, sometimes, the jeweler’s name.

For example, one of the rings acquired is a Prince of Wales signet ring. It bears a seal that only the Prince of Wales or members of his court were given. A sterling copy is pictured below.

Two of the signet rings were more mysterious. After a bit of online sleuthing, Lori found one of the rings seemed to be connected to the MacDougall family crest. 

Over the holidays, we added the ring to our online store with the following description: “Inscribed with the motto: "Vincere vel Mori" (To conquer or die) this signet ring seems to be from the Macdougall clan, although I am sure more than one unruly bunch of Scots might be safely linked to this crest. The date is unknown, it is a nicely worn ring.”  

This weekend we received an email from a gentleman inquiring about the piece. He is a MacDougall who lives in Oxford and was victim to a home burglary last September. One of the items stolen was a family ring with the MacDougall crest, worn by his grandfather during the war. He wondered if we had acquired the ring in the UK and sent along an image of a wax imprint of the stamp. 

He theorized that his robbers might have sold the ring to an unsuspecting antique jewelry dealer at a weekly local market. It could have traveled to London, trading hands along the way. The ring has scuffs and wear similar to what the gentleman described to us, and viewing his wax stamp, it is undeniably a MacDougall seal. After conferring with his aunt, who wore the ring for years before he came of age, about the ring's quality stamp (it is marked "9CT" inside) he felt sure that our ring was his ring. He admitted it would be a long shot if this was his ring. However, it seemed like the stars had aligned for this MacDougall.  

He will be reunited with it at the end of the month, so we will soon know if this is truly his grandfather's ring. We will be sure to keep you posted!