The image on this intaglio is an African woman’s profile. The shield shaped piece of banded agate was finely carved to reveal the rust-colored layer beneath the stone’s lavender grey surface, which is bezel set in 18k gold. On the band’s interior, the maker’s mark “CG” 18 for 18 karat gold and the date letter “z” have been inscribed, indicating that the ring is from Sheffield, England circa 1843.
We believe this ring belongs to the British Abolitionist Movement of the 1800’s. Though buying and selling slaves became illegal in 1807, slavery was not outlawed until 1833 and the majority of slaves were not emancipated until the late 1830’s. During this time, abolitionist groups such as the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society fought to end slavery in both the U.K. and internationally. In 1843, the last remaining slaves were finally set free.
In Sheffield, Mary Anne Rawson founded the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society, which campaigned for the rights of slaves from 1825 until all slaves were emancipated in the 1840’s. Perhaps this ring, which originated in Sheffield during this time period, belonged to a member of the Female Anti-Slavery Society, and she wore it while passionately fighting for human rights in her country and around the world.
This ring is extremely rare, as it belonged to a specific political group during a brief window of time. This beautiful piece of jewelry is a remaining testament to the efforts made to end slavery.