Victorian Jewellery describes items created within the years of 1837 and 1901 which was the time at which Queen Victoria occupied the throne and reigned over Britain and the Common Wealth. Despite often being described as a period, it was more accurately an era.
Within the Victorian Era there were four separate periods in jewellery making and design. Consequently, the rings created during the Victorian were diverse in design and made use of a wealth of stones, techniques and metals which anybody looking to purchase an antique Victorian ring might want to learn about.
The Romantic Period
The Romantic Period of the Victorian Era spans between the years of 1837 and 1861. During these years Queen Victorias husband, Prince Albert was alive. This is relevant because many of the motifs and much of the design of rings made at the time was consequently influenced by the Queen and Princes love for one and the other.
Therefore, rings created during the Romantic Period were characteristically cast in yellow gold or platinum, a relatively new metal at the time. Meanwhile, popular stones included emeralds, diamonds, turquoise and garnet which were often combined to create bouquets and floral or wistfully designed arrangements and set in gold.
Many of the rings surviving from this period in jewellery making also feature serpents and richly coloured enamels. The reason rings snakes holding their tales were so popular was that the ring Prince Albert gifted to his bride, Queen Victoria was of this design because the snake itself when curled to form an unbroken circle was given as a symbol of eternal and never ending love.
The Grand Period
The Grand Period arrived in 1861 with the death of Prince Albert. As Queen Victoria entered a period of mourning which would continue until the end of her life, jewellery fashion at the time took a far darker turn as well. In fact, it is the Grand Period which introduced the trend and mass production of what would later become known mourning jewellery.
Mourning jewellery rings were most often made using black stones, most popularly onyx and jet. The demand for affordable mourning rings though meant that less expensively created versions were too made, often featuring fossilised coal in place of a gemstone or even a hardened black rubber known as vulcanite or Bog Oak, a dark wood. Mourning rings were most commonly cast in gold and the most expensively made examples sometimes even featured cameos of the faces belonging to those lost as cameos at the time were too hugely popular.
The Aesthetic Period
By 1880 the Industrial Revolution was not just changing the landscape of Britains economy, but is too reflected and celebrated in much of the jewellery created during this time. During the Industrial revolution, metal stamping and plating also had a direct impact, not least literally, upon Victorian Jewellery and the metals used to create rings of the period.
Meanwhile, and due to the Industrial Revolution, the desire for nature inspired and animal motifs once again began to grow, albeit the botanical and floral motifs, patterns and animals proving popular now were far more exotic than once before. Consequently, rings were made to capture Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian patterns and emulate grape vines and papyrus leaves. Equally, Egyptian motifs such as scarab beetles were often featured on rings of the period along with lotus blossoms and even Pharaohs heads.
Perhaps unsurprisingly colour was too very much reintroduced during this period with more and more mines of precious stones being discovered and their hauls being brought back to England. Hence, along with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls, newly discovered stones such as opals began to feature in jewellery items.
To see for yourself and compare rings created in all three of the periods which make up the Victorian Era of jewellery and specifically ring making, browse our very own selection of Victorian rings available to buy here at Antique Rings Online.