Engagement Rings through the Ages

The Victorian Era: c.1830s - 1900

 The wedding of Victoria & Albert, 1840. 

The wedding of Victoria & Albert, 1840. 

The Victorian era was a time of eclecticism in fashion and design. Historic styles were mixed and matched with international motifs and mechanized production techniques. Engagement rings were no exception! Though a diamond ring was considered a fine tradition, colored gemstones and pearls were combined with an endless variety of intricate mountings, meaning that there was no one specific "look" that a ring had to have to be considered an appropriate betrothal gift.

 Victorian emerald & diamond ring with scrollwork detailing. 

Victorian emerald & diamond ring with scrollwork detailing. 

Edwardian Era: c.1900 - WWI

 Mrs. George Jay Gould isn't wearing enough pearls...

Mrs. George Jay Gould isn't wearing enough pearls...

The Edwardian era is named after Queen Victoria's heir, who reigned from 1901 - 1910. It was a time of great prosperity and great formality, when American 'robber barons' acquired massive quantities of rare and precious objects to solidify their social status.  Platinum was newly available, and jewelers utilized it to create lacy, all-white jewels set with costly diamonds and pearls.

 Edwardian ring with platinum filigree and white & yellow diamonds.

Edwardian ring with platinum filigree and white & yellow diamonds.

Art Nouveau Movement: c. 1890 - 1910

 Camille Clifford is the ultimate Gibson Girl.

Camille Clifford is the ultimate Gibson Girl.

Not everybody was drawn to the high-Edwardian look, which was heavily influenced by traditional European court styles of the eighteenth century. Instead, some felt more inspired by the concurrent trend of Art Nouveau, drawing inspiration from flowing lines found in nature and the female figure. Insects, vines, languid ladies and especially peacocks were favorite motifs of Art Nouveau designers. 

 Art Nouveau peacock feather ring with old mine cut diamond. Russian, c. 1910. 

Art Nouveau peacock feather ring with old mine cut diamond. Russian, c. 1910. 

Art Deco Movement: c.1920 - WWII

 Gloria Swanson looking lovely/annoyed in 1921. 

Gloria Swanson looking lovely/annoyed in 1921. 

After WWI fashion changed drastically-- the dissolution of old social hierarchies, the women's liberation movement, and rapid advances in technology and travel all contributed to the aesthetic that has come to be called Art Deco! Bold geometry, blocks of color and flat surfaces activated by line were characteristic of this new moderne style. In terms of engagement rings, this meant lots of impressive gemstones set in interesting geometric patterns. Metal was kept to a minimum, becoming an nearly-invisible frame to secure symmetrical mosaics of precious gems. 

 Art Deco engagement ring with baguettes, single cuts and 2.15 carat old European cut center. 

Art Deco engagement ring with baguettes, single cuts and 2.15 carat old European cut center.