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Although the Edwardian period was short, lasting only 14 years, the engagement ring designs of this era are captivating and continue to be highly sought after. These rings are characterized by a light and airy feel and are known for their detailed embellishments and romantic motifs.
If you’re looking for a unique engagement ring, with intricate designs and a lacy feel, an Edwardian antique or modern replica might be exactly what you’re after. Read on for everything you need to know about Edwardian rings.
What Was the Edwardian Era (1901-1915)?
The Edwardian period began in 1901, with the death of Queen Victoria and the ascension of King Edward VII. His reign only lasted for 14 years, but greatly influenced fashion and jewelry, with designs of the era featuring elegance, sophistication and modernity. King Edward had expensive tastes and this was reflected in the era’s jewelry styles.
This was known as the Belle Epoque, or Beautiful Era, when carefree attitudes and a certain lightness were the order of the day. Considering that this period ended with the start of World War I, there is a certain innocence to the Edwardian age.
By the time of the Edwardian era, rings were commonly machine made and/or mass produced, as opposed to being handcrafted. The Industrial Revolution was at its height and this reflected in how jewelry was made as well.
This video shows a beautiful Colombian emerald Edwardian ring. It features several characteristics of the Edwardian era, including a gemstone, platinum setting and cluster diamonds.
Characteristics of Edwardian Rings
The Edwardian era was heavily influenced by the styles of the late Victorian period, but it also had its own characteristics that made it distinct.
1- Platinum Rings
Platinum Ring by Gesner Estate Jewelry. See it here (click on image).
It was at the end of the Victorian era that platinum became extremely popular and this continued into the Edwardian era. As platinum became more accessible, they became increasingly common in engagement rings, renowned for their durability and beauty.
2- Two Toned Rings
Two Toned Ring by Pebble and Polish. See it here.
While platinum was possibly the most popular metal at this time, other metals that were also popular included rose and yellow gold. Many rings featured two-tone designs, where different metals, like yellow gold and platinum, are combined to create intriguing patterns.
3- Filigree Rings
Antique Filigree Ring by Revival Fine Jewelry. See it here.
Modern Replica by James Allen. Check price here.
It was during the Edwardian era that filigree rings really came into their own. Jewelers reached a new level of mastery over metal, with delicate, elegant designs crafted out of metal. The filigree settings acted as frames that drew the eye towards the center stone with ornate flourishes and detail. Even today, the filigree rings of the Edwardian era continue to inspire stunning modern designs.
4- Colored Gemstones
Antique Sapphire Ring by Theldos Eye. See it here.
Vintage-Inspired Emerald Ring. Check price here.
Gemstones were very common in Edwardian jewelry, with diamonds, pearls, amethyst, emerald and sapphire among the most popular. Because of the innovations in cut techniques, these stones could be used for elaborate and unique designs. Because King Edward favored green gemstones, emeralds and other green colored stones became very popular and were commonly featured in ring designs.
5- Natural Motifs
Diamond Ring with Leaf Design by Estate Diamond Jewelry. Check price here.
As with the Victorian era, natural motifs continued to be popular, including leaves, birds, insects, bows, scrolls and flowers. Swirls and curves were also popular, reminiscent of the Art Nouveau era. However, there was also a shift towards more geometric, angular designs, which hints at the coming Art Deco era.
6- Cluster Ring Setting
Modern Design Inspired by Edwardian Cluster Setting. See it here.
The cluster ring design was in vogue and featured a center diamond or gemstone encircled by a halo of pearls or other gemstones. Cluster rings were typically circular but were also oval or marquise shaped. The cluster setting made the most of small diamonds and gemstones, combining color in a single design.
7- Calibre Cut Stones and New Cuts
Caliber Cut Ruby and Diamond Bow Ring by Romanov Russiacom. Check price here.
During this period, new cuts were made available thanks to innovation in cutting techniques. Traditional cuts included the old mine cut, old European cut and the old rose cut. But in addition to this, new diamond cuts were created including the trapeze, baguette and triangular cut. Caliber cut was trendy and allowed for unique patterns to be crafted out of gemstones. Gemstones like ruby, sapphire and emerald were commonly used as caliber stones.
8- Knife Edge Bands
Knife Edge Minimalist Engagement Ring by NIXIN. See it here.
Knife edge settings emerged during the Edwardian era, adding an ‘edge’ (pun intended) to engagement and wedding bands. These bands made the center stone appear as though it was floating and enhanced its size by minimizing the size of the metal.
Problems with Antique Edwardian Engagement Rings
If you’ve decided to opt for an antique Edwardian engagement ring, here are a few things you should consider:
- Edwardian diamonds don’t have the sparkle we expect of diamonds and while they are gorgeous in their own way, are not the best option if you’re after a flashy, sparkling diamond ring.
- There will be wear and tear in genuine antiques, and some maintenance may be required prior to usage, including re-tipping prongs and checking if gemstones are not loose.
- There are no grading reports for Edwardian diamonds and it’s impossible to have a diamond graded while it’s still mounted in a ring setting. Approximate estimations can be given in a certificate of authenticity but not exact specifications.
- Resizing antique rings is difficult as many of these have ornate embellishments around the band. Resizing would compromise these elements.
- The value of the ring is affected by the condition, meaning that if the ring has missing side stones or damaged metal work, the overall worth will drop significantly. Always see the actual ring and not just a description of the ring, prior to purchase, to avoid getting ripped off.
- Edwardian antique rings aren’t cheap, and typically fall into the $1000+ range. If you find a ring claiming to be an authentic antique but is priced very low, there’s probably a catch somewhere.
- Edwardian rings created in the USA and Britain commonly carried the maker’s mark and a hallmark. This is one way to identify the authenticity of these rings.
Where to Buy Edwardian Engagement Rings
Where you buy your Edwardian engagement ring depends on the type of ring you’re after.
If you’re looking for a vintage-inspired modern ring, you’ll find that most reputable retailers offer a vintage ring collection. These are not actual antiques or vintage rings but simply vintage-inspired. They’re ideal if you’re after a vintage vibe in a new ring. This is also perfect for a something old and a something new.
We recommend checking out James Allen’s unique collection of stylish vintage inspired rings. There are over 100 stunning ring designs, each with its own gorgeous elements. Check it out here.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a genuine antique, it’s best to buy from a trusted retailer with a solid background in dealing with antiques. You’ll find many of these already offer their products on Etsy, so we recommend starting your search there. Browse Edwardian rings on Etsy here.
Should I Buy an Edwardian Engagement Ring?
Antique and vintage-inspired rings aren’t for everybody. They’re for those who appreciate the beauty of yesteryear, the elements in jewelry that influenced later styles and those who enjoy romantic nostalgia.
If you’re someone who appreciate vintage things, you may love wearing and Edwardian ring. You’re ring will be unique compared to most other people you know and if you enjoy walking your own path, this will delight you, not isolate you.
Vintage designs cycle in and out of fashion, but antique styles from popular eras like the Edwardian period are classic and timeless. While they might not be modern and in vogue, they have an air of sophistication and timelessness that most modern ring designs cannot aspire to.