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The Victorian period spanned from 1837 to 1901 and was named after the monarch of the time, Queen Victoria. The Queen was an avid jewellery collector, and would match befitting jewels for her outfit every day. During her reign, many influential events occurred such as the industrial revolution which resulted in a growing middle class with a disposable income who could follow her trend setting jewellery choices.
Early Victorian Rings 1837-1860: The Romantic Period
The Romantic Period was influenced by the Queen’s romance with her consort Prince Albert. The romanticised ideal of the natural world inspired the jewellery of the time, displaying motifs such as leaves, acorns and flowers. Snake rings, symbolising fidelity and love became hugely popular.
Middle Victorian Rings 1860-1885: The Grand Period
Rings of this period were ornate and opulent. The Grand Period included new inspiration from the Etruscan culture and was made famous by jewellers such as Castellani who incorporated the ancient technique of granulation. Acrostic rings were another favoured style, and were composed of coloured gemstones that spelled out secret romantic messages.
Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria retreated into private life to grieve for the consort. Mourning rings are a recognizable item of jewellery during this time, which were worn to commemorate the death of a loved one or historical figure. Dates, names and quotes were written in beautiful enamel, locks of hair and mini portraits were painted and used in place of central gemstones.
Late Victorian 1885-1901: The Aesthetic Period
Aesthetic Period rings were affected by the discovery of the new and abundant source of diamonds from South Africa. The popularity of diamond set rings reached new heights with the diamonds shown off in extremely fine settings with elaborate hand carved detailing.
Victorian Burmese sapphire and diamond coronet cluster ring by Joseph Harris, circa 1896.
Victorian Burmese sapphire and diamond coronet cluster ring. Set to centre with an oval old cut natural unenhanced Burmese sapphire in an open back claw setting with an approximate weight of 2.54 carats, encircled by a single row of eleven round old cut diamonds in open back grain and claw settings with a combined approximate weight of 0.60 carats, to an elegant coronet cluster design featuring rounded claws, an intricately pierced gallery and fancy open backholing, leading to ornately carved shoulders with a palmette motif, flowing through to a solid D-shape shank. Marked 18 carat yellow gold, maker's mark 'J.H' for Joseph Harris, circa 1896, accompanied by Gemmological Certification Services report #5775-1016.