Engagement Evidence – The Diamond Ring

An engagement is generally a much more informal event than the marriage that may follow.   A couple may become engaged long before any legal formal notice is given in the form of banns or civil alternative.  I know about the marriage of my grand uncle and grand aunt from their marriage certificate:

Bride: Evelyn Victoria Griffin
Groom: Charles Percival Fleming Jones (known as Percy)
Date: 13 July 1929
Location: St Michaels, Handsworth, Stafford

Some couples announced their plan to marry to their social circle through a newspaper personal column or other equivalent of today’s social media.  Some held a celebratory party.  Others simply started preparing for their wedding with no announcement or celebration.  The abiding symbol of an engagement is the engagement ring.  Thanks to Percy and Evelyn’s daughter, I have a document that records the purchase of Evelyn’s engagement ring.

Engagement Ring receipt

Engagement Ring receipt

The receipt, clearly torn along the perforation from a carbon duplicate book, is filled in by two people with different handwriting.  The first records:

Date: July 4 1928
Purchaser: Mr Nelson 184 Warstone Lane, Bham
Item: Diamond Ring
Price: £15/-/-

It is not obvious what “WO/137” and “MH” refer to.

The second hand records, some of it overwriting the 2 one penny revenue stamps:

Payment: Received Cash £15/0/0
Signature: SolleN? elson
Date: 6/7/1928

I think the signature is Mr Nelson’s, who received payment, presumably from Percy.

It seems quite obvious that Nathan Brothers were jewellery manufacturers, but who was Mr Nelson?  The 1921 and 1932 editions of Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham confirm that Nathan Brothers were jewellery manufacturers based at 120 Vyse Street[1].  I did not find a Mr Nelson, but two businesses operated at the address given, 184 Warstone Lane: Joseph Wainwright, a manufacturing jeweller and Sechaud A. & Co., precious stone dealers[2].   Both Vyse Street and Warstone Lane are in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.  The involvement of two businesses might indicate a custom-made ring.  I suspect Mr Nelson worked for Sechaud & Co. and that they supplied the diamond for the ring made by Nathan Brothers.

From this receipt, we can estimate that the couple became engaged about a year before the marriage.  What I do not know is whether Percy bought the ring before or after his proposal of marriage (assuming he did the traditional thing).  It would also be nice to add the story of Percy and Evelyn’s courtship, so dear relatives, what tales can you add?

© Sue Adams 2013


[1] Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, and the counties of Stafford, Warwick and Worcester 1921. Kelly’s Directories Ltd: London. p. 355. digital image. Ancestry (accessed ancestry.co.uk 8 July 2013), UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories 1770-1941. Birmingham. 1921 Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham. image no. 397.

Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, and the counties of Stafford, Warwick and Worcester 1932. Kelly’s Directories Ltd: London. p.441. digital image. Ancestry (accessed ancestry.co.uk 8 July 2013), UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories 1770-1941. Birmingham. 1932 Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham. image no. 506.

[2] Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, and the counties of Stafford, Warwick and Worcester 1921. Kelly’s Directories Ltd: London. p. 358. digital image. Ancestry (accessed ancestry.co.uk 8 July 2013), UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories 1770-1941. Birmingham. 1921 Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham. image no. 400.

Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, and the counties of Stafford, Warwick and Worcester 1932. Kelly’s Directories Ltd: London. p.445. digital image. Ancestry (accessed ancestry.co.uk 8 July 2013), UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories 1770-1941. Birmingham. 1932 Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham. image no. 510.

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3 Comments on “Engagement Evidence – The Diamond Ring”

  1. Joanna Simmons says:

    Hello! Just came across this quite randomly. Not sure if I can assist – The ‘Nathan Brothers’ were my Grandfather Rubin Nathan and my Great Uncle, Leonard Nathan. I believe that PATRICIA MCMULLEN is writing a book on marcasite Jewellery and is hoping to include a chapter on Nathan Brothers in her book. This may be totally irrelevant but just thought I would mention it.
    Jo

    Like

    • Sue Adams says:

      Hello Jo

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Can you tell me any more about the Nathan Brothers and their business? I would like to know I am right about the relationship with Mr Nelson.

      Sue

      Like


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