With over six years of experience in the jewellery trade, I have been at Berganza for four years as one of our Antique and Vintage Jewellery Specialists, Press Liaison, and for the last year and half, Manager. Alongside managing the Berganza team, I specialise in our diamond set jewellery, having earnt my diamond grading diploma from the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA).
By its very nature, each piece of antique and vintage jewellery is handcrafted, and one of a kind. Thus, each ring is as unique as the person wearing it. At Berganza we advocate choosing something that you will love for years to come. Your engagement ring is an extension of your style and your character, and therefore as trends change, you will continue to love your ring, which is personal to you alone.
Whilst I sincerely appreciate fine handcraftsmanship from across the ages, personally I favour chunky yellow gold statement pieces of jewellery. These can be found in the Victorian era and then again when yellow gold had a resurgence in the 1970’s.
For this reason, I would like to showcase one of my favorite pieces in the collection, a Gothic Revival diamond solitaire carved ring, attributed to Wièse, circa 1890. Not only is this ring a striking piece showcasing an old cut diamond that has been cut completely by hand, but when you look closer, it reveals a hidden story.
During the latter half of the nineteenth-century, goldsmiths turned increasingly towards the past, sourcing inspiration from ancient and medieval artefacts and reviving age-old techniques which had been lost over time. At the forefront of these revival movements was Jules Wièse (1818-1890), who came to Paris from Berlin in 1839. Combining medieval motifs with traditional manufacturing methods, Wièse drew inspiration from Arthurian legend and other chivalric tales, as well as Gothic architecture and art forms. His work was highly sculptural, often featuring figures which could be either human or mythological in nature, many with a definite Gothic overtone. He frequently employed grotesque beasts and gargoyles, and ecclesiastic decoration in his pieces.
Hidden in the ornate carved shoulders of this ring, which is attributed to Wièse, emerges the face of The Green Man. A motif found in many cultures around the world and spanning many eras, The Green Man is typically shown as a face surrounded by or composed of leaves and foliage, representing new life and nature.
Stamped to the interior of the band, is an owl with the number ’75’ in its belly, a French import mark used since 1893. This may seem like an incredibly small detail, but is one which lets us know that at some point in its life, this ring was imported into France. Furthermore, the number in the belly of the owl specifically relates to which area it was assay tested in, in this case, ‘75’ refers to the region of Paris, allowing us to trace part of its history.
Unveiling the hidden stories of these pieces is one of the wonderful aspects of working with such a large and varied collection of unique and handcrafted jewels, and I hope you find the story of this remarkable ring as fascinating as I do.