William Holman Hunt's gold and hardstone signet ring, known as "The Millais Ring", probably Hunt and Roskell, circa 1854
The circular hardstone engraved with William Holman Hunt's monogram "WHH", within a banded gold border, ring size N½
Hunt and John Everett Millais met as teenage students at the Royal Academy and became exceptionally close friends. "They were to love each other all their lives. Neither of them felt in the least self-conscious about the emotion they showed." In 1854, Hunt resolved to go to Syria to paint and almost all his friends dreaded his departure, many desperate either to accompany him or to join him. Millais, in the throes of confused love for John Ruskin's wife, Effie, was distraught at the prospect of losing the only friend he entirely trusted and wrote:
"In truth I don't think I should have the strength to say goodbye - scarcely a night passes but what I cry like an infant over the thought that I may not see you again - I wish I had something to remember you by, and I desire that you should go to Hunt and Roskell and get yourself a signet ring which you must always wear.. get a good one and have your initials engraved thereon..."
This is the ring Hunt ordered: a small gold ring with a round sardonyx which he wore until he died. The stone is engraved with his initials combined with an M (for Millais). Inverted the monogram turns into the letters PB (for Pre-Raphaelite).
Illustrated and described in Gere/Munn, p 62, plate 30. See Diana Holman Hunt, "My Grandfather, His Wifes and Loves", pp 38, 110-111.