Victorian Wedding Rings

Adrienne Warber
Victorian Style Sterling Silver Patterned Band

If you love antique jewelry, consider a Victorian wedding ring. Wedding jewelry from this era captures the romance and elegance of this bygone era. These rings can be especially meaningful to a couple who admires all things Victorian. From engraved gold and poesy rings to bands with delicate scrollwork, there are many options worth exploring.

Victorian Wedding Jewelry

During the reign of British Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901, jewelry fashions were influenced by the queen's life, art and the industrial revolution. Wedding jewelry also changed throughout the Victoria era. Distinct differences in the jewelry styles are often referred to as the Romantic Period (1837-1860), the Grand Period (1860-1880) and the Aesthetic Period (1880-1901).

The Romantic Period marks Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's courtship and marriage. Jewelry incorporated gold open work designs with the use of filigree, repousse and cannetille. Gemstones as well as natural materials, such as tortoise shell and ivory, were used. Symbolism played an important role. Many design elements were chosen because of their meaning based on ideas including the language of flowers, mythology and biblical stories. Some pieces also had hidden compartments for messages.

Wedding jewelry during the Romantic Period consisted of plain gold rings or gold bands with a hand engraved design. Patterns include flowers, leaves, clasped hands, angel wings or fruit. The couple's initials and the date of the wedding were often engraved inside the ring band.

After Prince Albert's death, Queen Victoria went into mourning for years, which influenced jewelry. Trends turned from cheerful designs to elegant, somber pieces, some quite elaborate works of art. Dark gemstones, such as jet, deep ruby, amethyst and onyx, were favored over the early Victorian's range of colorful stones. Jewelry themes also reflected the international travels of many British people, particularly Indian, Egyptian and Japanese influences. This influenced wedding ring designs, although plain gold bands were most popular during this period.

Victorian jewelry became more lighthearted during the Aesthetic Period. The queen's daughter-in-law, Princess Alexandria, became a celebrated fashion icon and moved people away from the austere designs favored by Victoria. Colorful gemstones were set in gold and sterling silver. Designs used nature and mythology as well as whimsical themes. Examples of designs include stars, crescent moons, mermaids, butterflies and dragons. These types of themes were also seen in wedding band patterns. Some more ornate wedding band patterns emerged. Wedding rings also sometimes included gemstones, such as three-stone rings.

The Bride's Ring

Throughout the Victorian era, it was still common practice for the bride to receive the only wedding ring. The practice of the exchange of two wedding rings was rare.

The majority of wedding rings were either plain gold or a patterned gold ring. Yellow gold or rose gold was most common. Silver wedding rings were also around, but not as widely used. Sometimes the groom also presented his new wife with a family heirloom ring that was generations old as a wedding ring.

Types of Victorian Wedding Rings

Victorian wedding rings are elegant and many have symbolic meaning in their designs. Plain gold rings or patterned bands were customary. Most ring bands were wide to accommodate ornate patterns or engravings.

Here are some examples of ring styles:

  • Yellow gold band with a pattern of intertwined flowers on the outside
  • Yellow gold ring with cross engravings
  • Silver poesy ring with romantic verse inside band
  • Yellow Gold three-stone ring with a ruby and two diamonds set in band with scrollwork
  • Rose gold band with alternating leaf and repousse artwork
  • Plain gold ring with an engraved message inside

Shopping Tips

Is a Victorian ring right for you? There are many beautiful designs to choose from, but you must be comfortable with the idea that someone else once wore the ring. Will the ring feel like yours or someone else's? You may find that the ring's history makes it more special and unique.

Once you decide to shop for a Victorian ring, keep these tips in mind to find quality jewelry:

  1. Buy local when possible. You want to examine an antique ring in person to make sure it is genuine and in good shape.
  2. You may have to buy online for the most purchase options. Since you can't look at the ring in person before you purchase, make sure the retailer is reputable. Check for any complaints at the Better Business Bureau, read customer reviews on site and offered through independent review sites, and look for signs that the website has secure online shopping.
  3. Shop around for the best price. Many antique rings are available for significantly less than modern rings found at most jewelers. It is not necessary to pay a fortune to find a beautiful ring. You also might be able to afford a more elaborate antique ring than modern one due to the differences in price.
  4. Ask the merchant if the ring can be resized before purchase. The previously owned rings are one-of-a-kind and come in one size. If the ring can't be resized, make sure you order the correct size and that you can return the ring for a full refund, if it does not fit.
  5. When inspecting a ring, make sure it fits the seller's description. Look for signs of wear or any broken or missing pieces. Don't overpay for a ring that needs repair. Be sure you can fix anything that needs repair.
  6. Have a jeweler appraise the ring, clean it and make any adjustments before the wedding to be sure it is in perfect shape for your special day.
  7. Consider an antique style ring inspired by the Victorian era, if you decide you like the design but want a new ring.

Explore the many possibilities of Victorian wedding jewelry. You may find a Victorian wedding band is the perfect choice.

Victorian Wedding Rings