The belt motif was extraordinarily popular in the mid to late 19th century. It can be seen on bracelets, rings, earrings, brooches, you name it and the belt or buckle is there. The symbolism behind the belt is similar to that of the snake, it represents an eternal bond and holding this meaning made it a favored theme in both sweetheart and mourning jewelry. The story we've been told with rings such as this one is that there was a fad for buckle rings worn as guard rings in the Victorian era. For Victorian women who received an ill-fitting mother-in-law's ring as their engagement piece, the buckle guard ring worn above it was a means of both holding it in place and being on trend. This wonderful piece was likely used for just that purpose, note the wear along the edge. Think of this exquisitely engraved piece as perfectly and painstakingly broken in over the course of many decades to nest neatly in your stack. This ring is a size 7.25 and due to the eternity patten of engraving resizing is not recommended.
VICTORIAN (1837 - 1901)
The Western world was thoroughly transformed during Queen Victoria’s epically long reign. New technology, urbanization, and industrialization created a middle class flush with disposable income, and for the first time, jewelry was mass-produced to sell to everyone.
The Victorians were avid consumers and novelty-seekers, especially when it came to fashion, and numerous fads came and went throughout the 19th century. In jewelry, whatever fashion choices Queen V. made reverberated throughout the kingdom. The Romantic period reflected the queen’s legendary love for her husband, Albert. Jewelry from this period featured joyful designs like flowers, hearts, and birds, all which often had symbolic meaning. The queen’s betrothal ring was made in the shape of a snake, which stood for love, fidelity, and eternity. The exuberant tone shifted after Prince Albert passed away in 1861, marking the beginning of the Grand Period. Black jewelry became de rigeur as the Queen and her subjects entered “mourning,” which at the time represented not just an emotional state, as we conceive of it today, but a specific manner of conduct and dress. She wore the color black for the remainder of her life, and we see lots of black onyx, enamel, jet, and gutta percha in the jewelry from this time. Finally, during the late Victorian period, which transitioned along with a rapidly changing world into the “Aesthetic Movemement”, there was a return to organic and whimsical motifs: serpents, crescent moons, animals, and Japonaisserie designed for the more liberated “Gibson Girl”.
During the second half of the 19th century, America entered the global jewelry market, with Tiffany and Co. leading the way. Lapidaries continued to perfect their techniques, and the old European cut emerged toward the end of the Victorian period. The discovery of rich diamond mines in South Africa made the colorless stones more accessible than ever before.