People who appreciate Antique and Vintage style rings, acknowledge that the Victorian period is one of the most popular eras for engagement rings, weddings rings, anniversary rings and rings for other special occasion rings. Diamonds and beautiful gemstones are set in romantic ring settings of yellow and white gold as well as platinum.
Queen Victoria’s reign, between 1837 and 1901, brought
about a long period of prosperity for the British people. A combination of increased trade through the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution led to a rising affluent middle class, eager to spend their new found wealth – and some of it on expensive jewelry.
The Victorians loved their jewelry and styles of that period reflect the abundance that could be found within middle class society and the aristocracy of the time.
The effects of the Romantic Movement, that had transformed many of the arts during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was in full force by the time Queen Victoria came to the throne. As a result, Victorian jewelry became more ornate with hearts, flowers and bows being incorporated into rings, necklaces and other jewelry.
The development of the British Empire also inspired many people to travelabroad and explore. Archeologists, undertaking digs in places like Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor, brought home unusual and exciting treasures that inspired jewellers of the time and enthused Victorian society for exotic styles of jewelry.
An example of the influence of Ancient Rome can be found in the popularity of Serpent jewelry during the early Victorian period. This ancient Roman symbol of eternal love was incorporated into an engagement ring that Prince Albert designed for Queen Victoria, his bride to be, to symbolise their passion and love for each other. A trend for giving Serpent engagement rings soon followed.
Yellow gold was the prime metal used by Victorian jewelers, due to the abundance of it from newly found mines in California and Australia. The increased availability of yellow gold helped to increase the popularity for gold engagement rings, gold wedding rings and other jewelry in this metal.
Diamonds in the early Victoria era were rare and affordable only by the upper classes. Early Victorian diamond rings were made from rose cut and old cut diamonds. Other precious gemstones, such as rubies, emeralds, garnets, amethysts, citrines, opals and pearls were more likely to be used for engagement and wedding rings, rather than diamonds, because they were more readily available and affordable.
With the discovery of new diamond mines in South Africa during the late 19th century, engagement and wedding ring styles started to combine both diamonds with other precious gemstones. Designs, such as the 5 stone half hoop ring – using a combination of diamonds and gemstones – became popular and continued to be so well into the 20th century. With the increase in diamond availability, diamonds started to become more affordable and in 1886, Tiffany introduced their classic six prong diamond solitaire ring – a style that is still one of the most popular settings of today.