The second half of the 19th century was a time of unprecedented economic expansion in Europe and the USA, enriching both the aristocracy and the new business class who spent fortunes on luxury antique jewelry. It was therefore a golden age for the vintage jewelry, the established Antique Jewelry firms such as Tiffany in New York and Garrard in London prospered more than ever, and two newcomers, Cartier & Boucheron, emerged in Paris. There was a demand for the formal grandeur of antique tiaras, necklaces and stomachers; antique rings, though somewhat overshadowed by so much splendor, echoed the great display of wealth on head and breast.
1) Victorian Emerald & Diamond Cluster Ring with milligrane rub over setting. Russian hallmarks 1897
The supply of precious stones increased. In 1886 Burma became part of the British Empire, which meant more Sapphires and Rubies were available, and with the discovery of mines in South Africa, diamonds became much more easily obtainable. In this Vintage period natural Oriental Pearls were often used in antique jewelry pieces, both white and colored became very prized and sought after. Antique Jewelry Designs now emphasized scale. Japanese and Russian Art also had a great influence on antique jewelry designs, especially with the popularity of antique enameled rings. The English periodical 'Queen' reported in 1870 that the novelty is cloisonne enamel applied to gold and made into beautiful antique jewelry, especially brooches, rings and pendants........ the colors are grounds from, lapis lazuli blue, dark yellow or dusky olive, almost covered with brilliant floral decorations in Russian style'.
2) Victorian Silver on Gold Marquise shaped Diamond Ring, Circa 1890
The various styles can be followed through the pages of albums preserved in the Cartier Vintage Jewelry Archives, recording the antique jewelry design of rings made from the firms founding in 1847; reflecting the eclecticism current in all the Antique designs. Historical incidents often heavily influence antique and vintage jewelry designs. In the Victorian period, there was the discovery of Hittite cities, which brought about in the 1870's the Etruscan revival period in antique jewelry with all the twisting wire work and bead decorations incorporated in antique jewelry. There was also the discovery of the Egyptian pyramids, along with in 1861 the opening of the Suez canal, where antique Victorian jewelry designers were very quick to copy and revive the motifs' from ancient Egypt. Queen in 1870 described a Victorian Ring made by the London Jewelers Howell & James which was reproduced from the ancient Egyptian: four large oriental pearls with a diamond center form the main arrangement of the ring, while dropping and extending from this central arrangement are golden plates or escutcheons on which groups of Papyrus are richly enameled.'
3) Edwardian Cabochon Sapphire and Diamond Gypsy set ring Circa 1900
Prominent people from Royalty, or famous people from the acting or sports world had and still have an influence on fashion and vintage jewelry. One article in a well known periodical remembered the aesthete Oscar Wilds in 1889 walking about in Paris 'with an antique jewelry tie pin in his buttonhole, and wearing his famous antique Sphinx ring on his finger.' There was also in this time period a discovery of some of the ancient Greek cities and temples, which again heavily influenced antique jewelry design. Egyptian Papyrus leaves became popular decorations in antique Victorian jewelry.
4) Antique Gold & Diamond Etruscan Revival Brooch Circa 1875
An even stronger influence on Victorian Jewelry design was the influence of Greek and Roman jewelry, now reinterpreted with far more archaeological accuracy than in the Empire period. There were three austere Roman-style rings in the casket of classicizing gold antique jewelry made by the Italian Jeweler Castellani, and presented to Princess Maria Pia of Savoy, daughter of an Italian count, on her marriage to the King of Portugal in 1862.
5) Victorian Crossover ring with gypsy set diamonds in a snake motif. Circa 1890
Settings for gemstones and pearls in Victorian rings were inspired principally by 18th Century Rococo and Neo-Classical styles. Cartier ledgers for 1873 illustrate Victorian rings set in clusters, or closely paved onto marquise bezels, and two large pear shapes tied with a ribbon. Also in their Victorian jewelry archives back in 1897, a brilliant cut diamond appears framed with rose cut diamonds. Early Victorian Jewelry, especially diamond were set in highly polished silver on a gold mount, the reason for this is the antique jewelry designers realized that diamonds set in the polished silver mostly enhanced their brilliance, unlike a full gold mount, which sometimes detracted from the diamonds fire. At the very end of the 1890's.Platinum was coming into use in Victorian Jewelry designs; it was knurled into millegrain or tiny beaded edges sparkling with with myriad points of light. The antique jewelry designers found that the 'silver topped' jewelry, continually needed to be polished, as the silver over time oxidized, and turned to a charcoal color, whereas platinum didn't and kept its highly polished shine.
6) Antique Victorian Natural Yellow Diamond and Rose Cut Diamond Cluster ring Circa 1880
Another new development was the Tiffany setting in antique jewelry introduced in 1887, which lifted the stone away from the mount, so that the light could flood in from all sides, and be reflected back again from all the different size facets revealing the diamond brilliant cut to fullest advantage. In contrast to the also newly introduced in antique jewelry - the 'gypsy' or 'rubover' setting, which sunk one or three stones deep into the metal so that the top surface of the stone was flush with the mount, and then Victorian Jewelry designers also realized this setting also worked well with Cabochon cut gemstones. Also introduced by antique jewelry designers at this time was, which was popular was the twist or crossover styles, the antique precursor to the contemporary 'Moi et Toi" rings.
7) Victorian Gold Ruby & Diamond cluster ring Circa 1880
At Beverley R Jewelry in Chicago we have all the different styles of rings from the different periods in stock. We carry all original Georgian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Retro jewelry, but our specialty is rings from these time periods, and especially engagement rings, for those who are looking for the highest quality diamonds or gemstones, with their own unique designs, for a ring that is eminently wearable, and a ring that none of your friends will have, then the antique jewelers, Beverley R Jewelry in downtown Chicago is the place for you to come.
8) Victorian Ruby & Emerald Double Heart Ring with Rose Cut Diamond surround Circa 1860