The Foundry Journal

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The Foundry Journal

5 Vintage Victorian Rings

August 9, 2015

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Style Guide

Diamond Industry

5 Vintage Victorian Rings

August 9, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Artisan Craftsmanship

When women say that they want vintage jewelry, they usually mean Victorian. If you go much earlier, then you get stuck with absurdly heavy brooches and bangles that really only makes sense in a fresco painting. Victorian jewelry is great because it’s elegant, fashionable and wearable. It was designed to be worn by the masses, rather than just the aristocracy.

fifteenth cent spain

This poor soul is drowning in adornments in 16th century Spain.

Victorian rings are defined by their commitment to gemstones, natural motifs, filigree inlay, and general opulence. Although engagement rings weren’t widely used until the 20th century, the Victorians did sometimes exchange promise rings with their intendeds. Since most vintage Victorian rings have central gemstones and elaborate bands, they work well as engagement rings. If you want to read more about Victorian jewelry and fashion, then check out this blog post.

The Filigree Ring 

victorian typical

This stunning diamond ring highlights several trademarks of Victorian style. The elaborate filigree pattern highlights, rather than distracts from, the center stone, which is the clear focus of the ring. After diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867, Victorian design preferences turned towards a boom in diamond jewelry.

The Sapphire Ring

victorian sapphire

This sapphire and diamond ring with gold band dates to the earlier part of the Aesthetic Period, or the Late Victorian Period. Yet this ring straddles early and late Victorian preferences with remarkable finesse. On the one hand, the Queen wore a sapphire and diamond brooch on her wedding dress in 1840. However, this ring is much simpler than many of its counterparts, perhaps suggesting that it was made for the independent, self-assured, mobile woman of the later 19th century.

The Snake Ring

victorian snake ringFor the Victorians, Snakes represented eternal love, and the entwinement of a double-headed snake evoked the unity of two beings. For her engagement ring, Albert gave Victoria a snake with emerald eyes eating its own tail, which was apparently very beautiful and not at all weird.

The Opal Ring

victorian opalCelebrating the Victorian preference for diamond halos, the opal ring also invokes the whimsical softness of Art Nouveau. However, the centrality of the gemstone places it firmly within Victorian tradition. An opal ring was a less expensive alternative for the masses, who could begin to buy jewelry for themselves.

The Poppy Ring

victorian flower

Like the one that precedes it, this diamond ring from the Late Victorian Period has a touch of the Art Nouveau. The carved band, while a little too simple for Art Nouveau, takes care to emphasize the settings as much as the stone. The Victorians believed that each flower represented a unique meaning. This ring, resembling a poppy, could carry a sensuous connotation, since poppies represented pleasure and imagination.

While vintage Victorian rings are certainly rare, Victorian-style rings are becoming increasingly popular. We encourage you to use this list as a guide in selecting rings with more ethically sourced jewels than their antique counterparts.

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