The Edwardian Period (1901-1910), sometimes called Belle Epoque, or The Beautiful Age features jewelry that is light and airy.
If you are searching for an enchanting ring from this period, use our handy guide to learn:
- What is an Edwardian engagement ring
- Edwardian design motifs
- Ring Settings used in the Edwardian period
- Edwardian engagement ring metals, diamond cuts, and gemstones
- What you need to know before purchasing an Edwardian engagement ring
- Tips for shopping and finding a genuine piece
- Where to buy
WHAT IS AN EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RING?
There are a handful of various design periods that encompass vintage and antique engagement rings. A vintage ring would fall into a design period that is less than 100 years old, whereas an antique ring will fall into a design period that is more than 100 years old.
The Edwardian design era was a brief period that lasted only nine years from 1901 – 1910, during the reign of King Edward the VII. Designs of this time took their inspiration from Edward’s wife, Alexandra, who radiated feminine grace. Edwardian jewelry is ethereal, light, and elegant, a stark contrast to the dark and heavy jewelry of the Victorian era that preceded it. The Edwardian Era was a time of lavish abundance.
Due to the invention of the oxyacetylene torch, jewelers were able to use higher temperatures than ever before in creating their jewelry. This allowed them to utilize platinum, an incredibly durable metal that could be used to create lacy, delicate styles while still safely anchoring the numerous diamonds woven through their pieces.
See an Edwardian Ring in the Following Video
EDWARDIAN DESIGN MOTIFS
It was during the Edwardian era that filigree work made its debut. Filigree is delicate, open scrollwork with intricate designs. Edwardian designs feature heavy accents of filigree, milgrain (tiny metal beads along the edge of settings), and engravings.
Popular motifs of the Edwardian era included bows and ribbons, moon and stars, flowers, garlands, leaves, shamrocks, scrolls, and hearts.
EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RING SETTINGS
The pavé setting, pronounced “pa-vay,” comes from the French word “to pave,” as in paved with diamonds. A Pavé setting has tiny prongs that hold small diamonds very close together, creating continuous sparkle.
The Edwardian style called for diamonds, diamonds, and more diamonds, so pavé settings were a perfect way for Edwardian jewelers to utilize multiple diamonds throughout their delicate designs.
One of the oldest setting styles is the bezel setting. A bezel setting securely holds the gemstone with a thin wall of metal encircling it. Bezel settings are great for anyone with an active lifestyle, as there are no prongs to get bumped or snagged.
A trendy style of the Edwardian era, the cluster setting featured a central diamond or gemstone, encircled by other gemstones or pearls. These rings were often oval or navette shapes. Navette means “little ship” in French, and is narrow at opposite ends and bowed in the middle, like a boat.
A cluster setting “clusters” stones tightly together to look like a large diamond. It can either contain a larger center stone or cluster together stones of equal size.
KNIFE EDGE SETTING
The knife edge setting was created to make the diamond appear as if it was held by a thin wire. The mounting is pinched to produce a ridge around the diameter of the shank.
EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RING METALS
Platinum is an extremely durable, pure white metal that is naturally hypoallergenic. It was used extensively during the Edwardian era because it could achieve delicate, airy metal work and it went well with the pastel and white colored clothes that were in fashion at the time.
Gold was used to provide rich accents to pieces and was often overlaid on platinum or used in conjunction with platinum. Colored golds such as rose, yellow, and white gold were utilized. Gold of 10k to 18k was common; luxury pieces used 18k yellow gold.
This Video Shows the Differences Between Colored Golds
EDWARDIAN DIAMOND CUTS
Technology for cutting and shaping diamonds was much more basic in the Edwardian days. Jewelers of the time didn’t even fully understand how to use light to generate maximum sparkle. Simple shapes were the norm, and the cutting was less precise than what we have today.
Diamonds of the Edwardian era have smaller tables than modern diamonds, so they don’t offer the same brilliance. Still, they have a unique charm to them, and many find them to be even more beautiful than modern brilliant cuts.
OLD MINE CUT
The old mine cut is a predecessor to the old European cut and the modern round brilliant cut, but it is most commonly compared to today’s cushion cut diamond because it is a rounded square.
Old mine cut diamonds were popular during the Edwardian era because they allowed diamond cutters to salvage as much weight as possible from the rough diamond.
The old mine cut is a deep cut with a high crown, small table (top facet), and large culet (facet at the point).
Watch the Following Video to see an Old European Cut Diamond vs. A Modern Cut Diamond
OLD EUROPEAN CUT
Another predecessor of the modern round brilliant, the old European cut came about as the result of diamond cutters adapting new technology to their trade and cutting rounder diamonds.
The old European cut is rounder and deeper than the old mine cut, but they still have a small table and large culet. It has the same number of facets as a modern round brilliant but lacks the proportions to maximize light return.
A favorite central diamond cut of the Edwardian era because the marquise shape fits well in navette shaped rings.
The marquise shape is a brilliant cut with multiple facets that radiate out from the center of the diamond. It is different than step cuts such as the emerald cut, which has long, linear facets.
GEMSTONES USED IN EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RINGS
- Calibre cut gems were cut precisely for the piece they would be used in. Emeralds, sapphires, and rubies were popular calibre stones.
- Diamonds and pearls were used abundantly in Edwardian jewelry. Pearls were viewed as a sign of wealth and purity.
- Pastel colored gemstones, such as amethyst, and pink and purple kunzite were popular because they were Princess Alexandra’s favorite colors.
- Emeralds were extremely popular along with other green gems, like demantoid garnet and peridot, because green was a favorite color of King Edward.
- Other popular gemstones included sapphire (particularly pink sapphire), opal, and moonstone.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANTIQUE EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RINGS
- They can be challenging to resize due to engravings or stones set along the band.
- Due to basic cutting techniques, diamonds from this era will have less sparkle than modern-cut diamonds.
- Expect some wear. These rings have seen some use, prongs may be thin and need to be re-tipped. Gemstones may have abrasions or chipping (however, there are many Edwardian rings available that are in excellent condition).
- Diamonds from this era often do not have grading reports. The GIA will not grade a mounted diamond and removing a diamond from its setting could damage the piece.
TIPS FOR PURCHASING AN EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RING
- The value of an Edwardian ring is severely affected by condition. Make sure you know the condition of a ring before you purchase it. Replaced or missing gemstones or damaged prongs will lower the value of a ring.
- Because of their popularity, Edwardian style rings were created well into the 1940’s and 50’s and are still replicated today. If you want an authentic Edwardian ring from the Edwardian era, check the date of the ring’s manufacture.
- During the Edwardian era, the Industrial Revolution was starting to boom. Handcrafted rings created during these years are quite rare, with machine-made rings being more common.
- Rings from this period that were made in the USA or Britain should have hallmarks and maker’s mark stamps. However, other European countries did not require hallmarking, so rings from this era may or may not have any stamps on the inside of the band.
- Don’t settle for a ring in bad condition; there are plenty of Edwardian rings that have made it to the present day in excellent condition.
- Stick to reputable retailers and shops that specialize in vintage and antique jewelry, they will be the most knowledgeable and will be able to offer you reports on the stones and metals, detailing their value.
- Most engagement rings from the Edwardian era are priced at over $1000, with many reaching the $10,000 mark. You can find beautiful Edwardian engagement rings for $3000 – $5000. A low priced ring should have you questioning its authenticity.
WHERE TO BUY AN EDWARDIAN ENGAGEMENT RING
There are many places to shop for Edwardian engagement rings, both online and in-store. The key is finding a genuine piece and not buying a fake.
Etsy is by far my favorite place to shop for vintage and antique jewelry; I love supporting the small businesses that make a living there. You can find many reputable shops on Etsy, with knowledgeable sellers who have a passion for vintage and antique jewelry.
Edwardian engagement rings are perfect for a bride who wants a ring that is delicate and feminine. With their filigree work and glittering patterns of diamonds, Edwardian engagement rings evoke an air of gentility, grace, and style.
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