A Woman Found A Ring Filled With Charlotte Brontë’s Hair In The Attic And We Have So Many Questions

Yes, really.

Charlotte Bronte desk

by Georgia Aspinall |

Picture the scene: you’re clearing father-in-law’s attic out after his recent passing. You come across a locked box with no key. Suspicion arises. Upon finally opening the box, a small gold is left inside it, looking like something you wouldn’t miss if it fell of your hand during a night out. But, on further inspection, you see a hinge that you can pull back. You pull back the hinge, look inside the ring, and suddenly you realise what you’re looking at… a lock of plaited hair. Literal hair. You throw the ring across the room and run away screaming to be sick.

Or, you go on Antiques Roadshow and have the ring evaluated, and come to find it’s a ring honouring Charlotte Brontë and is worth £20,000. It might not have been our first reaction, but it was of one guest on the TV show on Sunday. Bringing the ring to Geoffrey Munn, the guest explained that the ring has the initials ‘C.Brontë’ on alongside the date the Jane Eyre author died.

After opening it to find hair inside the ring, she put two and two together and realised she was actually holding a lock of the great authors hair. Yes, really. What do you do in that situation? Put it back and carry on with your day like you haven't just touched the hair off the head of the greatest novelist of the 19th Century?

According to Geoffrey, it isn't all that uncommon either - that is, for hair to be in jewellery from the 19th Century, not to casually stumble upon the remains of a legendary author while rummaging around your attic. Back in the 1800's it was custom to include a ‘fragment of the person that has died’ in jewellery made in their honour. According to him, it was because people were so fearful of forgetting the face and character of the person who had passed.

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‘It echoes a bracelet Charlotte had that had the hair of her two sisters, which she wore with an amethyst for devotion,’ he said, ‘So it is absolutely the focus of the mid to the late 19th Century but also the focus of Charlotte Brontë herself.’

It's with this knowledge of 19th Century remains being weaved into jewellry that any questions about the authenticity of the ring vanish, for Geoffrey at least- we're still apprehensive. But the bigger question is, how much can a ring filled with the hair Charlotte Brontë be worth?

Explaining that the ‘completely credible’ ring was difficult to value given it’s nod to such an icon of British literature, Geoffrey estimated its value as £20,000- much to the surprise of its owner.

‘Intrinsically it looks as though it’s some sort of nine carat gold alloy and I doubt frankly that it would be worth more than £25,’ Geoffrey said, ‘But I think as a relic of one of the greatest romantic novelists of the 19th century, the author of Jane Eyre, that we have to put a very different sum on it indeed.’

While the valuation may have been the greatest shock to the crowd, we’re more in awe of how common it is to find hair in 19th Century jewellery. Essentially, if you’re going to go rooting round your family heirlooms, be prepared to find the hair of one of your deceased relatives. The nightmares are the price you may have to pay for a £20,000 reward.

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