On a portrait of Amy(Anna)Seymour, at Trerice Manor, Cornwall, dated 1623, she is wearing a ring on her left little finger with a black thread attatched and tied round her wrist.
I understand she was not widowed at the time the portrait was painted, what would be the significance of the ring and thread?
If this is a mourning ring who would she be mourning?
Since rings were frequently bequeathed or given as keepsakes and tokens in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, very often they did not fit their eventual owners.
Diana Scarisbrick's book, "Tudor and Jacobean Jewellery", gives a great deal of insight into how the Tudors and Stuarts wore their jewellery. According to Scarisbrick, the method of wearing a black cord, tied around the wrist, was popular because it kept the ring secure but did not damage any enamelling.
Black cord was favoured because it allowed a lady to show off the whiteness of her skin. A good example of this is the portrait of Lady Diana Cecil by William Larkin.
Other methods of attaching a ring include wearing it on a cord around the neck or around the sleeve as in the portrait of Sir Henry Lee.
So Amy Seymour was probably just using a practical yet fashionable solution for a ring that was too big for her!
Have you seen an almost identical portrait of her in Cheltenham Art Gallery where she is pretty and considerably younger? Still wearing the same ring!
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