Victorian rings were strongly influenced by love, the increase in travel and improved archaeological discovery throughout Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901. A lover of jewellery herself, her long and successful reign inspired a new generation of jewellery, with pieces both iconic to the Victorian era as well as many pieces being inspired by the revival of ancient techniques. This era marked the rise of the Industrial Revolution and Britain’s middle class, so for the first time, jewellery gradually became more accessible to people other than those most rich and powerful in society, although it was closer towards the Art Deco jewellery era when this was more prominent. The developments in industry also helped to make Victorian jewellery more affordable.
The Victorian jewellery era coincided with the Romantic period, which commonly featured floral motifs and bright gemstones that were symbolic of love and good fortune. Jewellery in this period was very sentimental, whether to reflect the love of newly weds or the lasting love of older couples. Another strong theme throughout the Victorian era was celestial motifs, with stars and crescent moons regularly featuring across all types of jewellery. Interestingly, Queen Victoria’s vintage engagement ring featured a snake with emerald eyes, which was thought to symbolise the eternal love she shared with her husband Albert.
Following Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria entered a lifelong period of mourning, which strongly inspired jewellery design moving forward in her reign. Elaborate yet dark jewellery was created to mirror this, which slowly transitioned towards the end of her reign when lighter diamond jewellery was prominent around her 60th anniversary as Queen.
Victorian rings, and all jewellery from the era in fact, truly paved the way for iconic Edwardian rings, Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewellery eras, with Victorian pieces continuing to circulate in perfect condition. Explore our vintage rings collection today!
Many different motifs were seen in Victorian rings, from serpents to flowers, all with a strong connection to love. As the Romantic period suggests, the majority of motifs were linked to love in some way, whether through snakes and serpents on Victorian engagement rings, including Queen Victoria’s, which were symbolic of eternal love, or the celestial motifs that highlight the stars and moon, which were transcendence symbols of hope, fate and romance.
As Britain became wealthier throughout the Victorian era, accessibility to some of the world’s most exceptional gem mines was improved. As a result, popular stones that featured in Victorian rings included amethysts, diamonds, ruby and sapphire, as well as rare opals and pearls. During her period of mourning following the death of her husband Prince Albert, dark jewellery became very prominent, featuring black onyx and jet, a type of lignite.
Victorian rings should be cleaned like any type of vintage jewellery, with great care. We would always recommend having your Victorian rings professionally cleaned once a year, a complimentary service we offer for life at Berganza with any purchase. For pieces you wear everyday, including Victorian engagement rings, you should have them cleaned more often. You should also always have particularly delicate jewellery, such as pieces with pearls, cleaned professionally, rather than at home. For less delicate pieces, you can create a cleaning solution using mild soap and warm water at home. Dip a soft bristled toothbrush into the mixture and gently clean the jewellery, particularly around any settings and avoid the gemstone where possible. Keep the jewellery out of the water rather than submerging, and once completely clean, rinse well. Hang to dry for at least 24 hours to make sure it is completely dry before putting it back into storage.
Revival jewellery, which involved old-age jewellery practices being utilised in more modern eras, was an important part of Victorian jewellery. Techniques and stylistic features from ancient Egypt, discoveries in Pompeii and Herculaneum and the Renaissance periods inspired the creation of breathtaking Victorian rings and jewellery with clear ties to both the past and the jewellers own distinct styles.