Part 3: Georgian and Victorian jewels: Status and symbolic romanticisms
As the 18th century was ushered in, the tradition of presenting your betrothed with an engagement ring had been firmly established. For couples of means during the early 1700s these rings may have included the exceptionally rare diamond gemstone which were typically viewed and revered as ‘love stones’. Durable, transparent and possessing outstanding beauty the diamond symbolised strength, eternity and endurance. At this time the only known source of diamonds was the Indian mines which were near complete depletion. By 1727 diamonds increased in availability due to the discovery of a rich alluvial deposit in Brazil.
The newly replenished resource fuelled European jewellers and aided the creation of a number of popular ring designs. Large ornate open work clusters featuring silver settings emerged, the dark silver borders contrasted by the elegant twinkling of the diamonds were favoured as a status symbol of the elite. Feminine flora forms with intricately styled closed back settings were often personalised with engraved initials of the devoted couple. Another favourite was the heart or double heart motif often surmounted by a crown or lover’s knot symbolic of the unity between the couple.
Even with an array of tempting designs the ever-popular choice was the simplistic diamond solitaire engagement ring. Its popularity soared when Queen Charlotte received such a ring from King George III to mark their engagement in 1761. Although simple in its design she continued to receive diamond jewellery as gifts from her husband which she wore to compliment her engagement ring. Her vast collection of spectacular gems subsequently gave her the name ‘Queen of Diamonds.’ The status and romance connected with diamonds continued well into the 19th century.
Into the Victorian era symbolic romanticisms took the forefront following the love story shared between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Queen had a great love of jewellery and took advantage of the Royal collection at every opportunity. Prince Albert noticing her fascination with jewels, swiftly added to her collection with many commissioned items. One such item included her serpent engagement ring which was set with an exquisite emerald. The serpent motif has ancient origin and it was chosen by Albert because the coiled snake represented never-ending love.
The couple continued to pioneer jewellery tastes of the time with other symbolic choices which used the latest techniques and available gems. Victoria was well versed in the language of flowers and received an orange blossom sprig from her beloved Albert as an engagement present. The orange blossom which flowers as it bears fruit represented fruitfulness and was favoured as a wedding flower. Throughout their marriage, Albert added to Victoria’s orange blossom sprig and it eventually became a suite that she would wear on their wedding anniversary each year.
The populace followed the trends set by the royal couple and soon rich golds set with diamonds and coloured gemstones in ornate settings became the fashion. Symbolic emblems such as the serpent, orange blossom and initials were favoured to personalise each piece. At Berganza we have an extensive range of Georgian and Victorian pieces which personify the romantic gestures of the times. Whether you are intrigued by twinkling diamonds of the Georgian era or the passionate pieces of the Victorian romantic era our collection is sure to suffice. Visit our website today to be immersed in symbolic treasures ready for use in your very own love story.