Friday, February 1, 2013

Late Victorian Engagement Rings (1885-1901)

Tiffany & Co Classic Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
Tiffany & Co. Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
(6-prong setting)
Photo used with permission.
Copyright 2018 EraGem

Though many competing jewelry styles emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, Late Victorian engagement rings have made an indelible impression upon British and American brides throughout the centuries. The elegant flourishes and distinctive styles perfected by Victorian jewelers endure today as the pinnacle of classic romantic wedding jewelry.

All-white weddings, patterned after three high-profile Royal weddings, which took place between 1840 and 1863, maintained supreme popularity into the late 1880s. Consequently, pearls and diamonds remained among the most popular gemstones for engagement and wedding rings.

It was during this time period that the tradition was set whereby a groom gave his intended an engagement ring upon proposing. As larger and greater numbers of diamonds were exported from the Kimberley mine in South Africa, diamond solitaires grew in popularity.

The popularity of the diamond solitaire was further established in 1886, when Charles Lewis Tiffany’s team perfected the six-prong diamond setting. Their new setting featured a single large diamond poised above its band, held in place by six distinctive metal prongs. Tiffany & Co.’s elegant setting, which today remains a classic in diamond solitaires, allows the diamond to exhibit maximum brilliance.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of diamond solitaire engagement rings, many Late Victorian engagement rings also featured colored gemstones alongside diamonds. Emeralds, rubies, and blue sapphires held prominence in wedding jewelry, especially for those of Royal and Noble blood.

However, as new and more abundant gemstones became available to both the upper and middle classes, engagement rings began featuring the alluring colors of aquamarine, peridot, turquoise, and chrysoberyl.


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2. “Antique and Vintage Designs.” Rings with Love, accessed January 13, 2013.
3. “Antique Engagement Ring Settings.” Engagement Ring Settings, accessed January 13, 2013.
4. Bradley, Tara. “Victorian Engagement Rings (1830s-1900s).” Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Accessed January 13, 2013.
5. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part II, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 15, 2013.
6. Fragoso, Lilyanna. “Engagement Rings in the 18th and 19th Centuries.” eHow. Accessed January 13, 2013.
7. Harlow, George E. The Nature of Diamonds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
8. “History of Jewelry, The.” Brilliance Jewelry, accessed January 13, 2013.
9. “History of Wedding Rings, The.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 13, 2013.
10. “Keeper Ring.” Antique Jewelry University, accessed January 13, 2013.
11. “Promise Ring Meaning.” Antique Jewelry Investor, accessed January 13, 2013.
12. Schoening, Lisa and Kurt Rothner. “Why a Vintage Engagement Ring?” Excalibur Jewelry, May 5, 2012. Accessed January 13, 2013.
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*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy


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