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Edwardian ring guide: how to buy and what to look for

The Edwardian period, 1901 to 1914, named after King Edward VII, is often seen as a bridge between the ornate Victorian styles and the boldness of the Art Deco movement.

It was a time of change, technological advancement, and shifting powers — all of which are reflected in its jewellery. After all, this early 20th-century era, although brief, was ultimately a time of refined elegance. 

King Edward VII

Despite the period’s challenges — such as World War I — Edwardian rings retained a sense of luxury and beauty. Characterised by delicate designs, intricate filigree and the use of diamonds and pearls, the era’s antique rings are a testament to the era's skilled craftsmanship.

They are not just pieces of jewellery but are also historical artefacts that tell the story of transitional periods in  fashion and society.

This guide delves into the beauty and complexity of Edwardian rings. From gems to metals, we’ll get an insight into what makes these antique treasures so captivating and sought after. As we explore Edwardian society and ring design, we’ll uncover the allure that fascinates antique ring fans today.

Edwardian jewellery vs Belle Époque and Art Nouveau 

The Edwardian era overlaps with the Belle Époque and Art Nouveau period.

RIngs compared
L to R: Edwardian ring, Art Nouveau ring, Belle Époque ring

The Belle Époque occurred between 1871 and 1914 describing a golden age in French, Belgian and European industry, culture and society. Art Nouveau lasted from around 1890 to 1910 and was an ornamental style of art popular throughout Europe and the USA. 

Edwardian designs are celebrated for refined elegance, emphasising luxury and graceful lines with diamonds and platinum popular.

Art Nouveau jewellery was more about artistic expression and creativity, inspired by nature with free-form motifs and aesthetics more important than the cost of materials. 

Belle Époque jewellery often features garlands, lace and bows inspired by French rococo decoration. 

Edwardian style rings 

Edwardian-style rings represent a pinnacle of technical innovation in jewellery design. This era witnessed a remarkable fusion of advanced metalwork and gemstone-cutting techniques, setting new standards in jewellery craftsmanship. A signature feature of these rings is the exquisite filigree work, reminiscent of delicate lace patterns crafted in platinum.

What cuts were used? 

The Edwardian era was a pivotal time for innovation in gemstone cuts. It introduced several styles that enhanced the natural beauty of stones.

  • The era saw the debut of the Asscher cut in 1902, a distinct square shape with trimmed corners that create an octagonal appearance. Renowned for its deep pavilion and high crown, the Asscher cut is celebrated for its exceptional brilliance.
  • Another fashionable style was the Old European Cut. It featured a circular girdle with large facets and a pronounced high crown, offering a romantic, vintage sparkle.
  • The Rose Cut, with its flat bottom and dome-shaped crown, was favoured for its subtle, soft glow.
  • The Cushion Cut, known for its pillow-like shape with rounded corners, combined elegance with deep facets.
  • The Old Mine Cut, a precursor to the cushion cut, had a squarish shape, a high crown and a distinctive large, flat top.
  • The Marquise Cut, known for its elongated shape with pointed ends, was often chosen to maximise carat weight, creating an elegant and slender appearance.
  • The Oval Cut provided an elongated, flattering shape on the hand, adding a unique twist to traditional styles. 

These cuts collectively contributed to the distinct and enduring appeal of Edwardian-era rings.

What jewels were used?

In the Edwardian era, jewellery design emphasised luxurious and high-quality jewels. Edwardian diamonds, in particular, were trendy. Celebrated for their unrivalled brilliance and clarity, diamond rings were the quintessence of Edwardian luxury. They were often showcased in innovative cuts like the Asscher and Old European to maximise their sparkle.

Pearls, symbolising purity and sophistication, were another staple of Edwardian rings. These natural gems were frequently paired with diamonds, creating designs that epitomised elegance and refinement.

The era also had a penchant for vibrant, richly coloured gemstones. These were used to add a dynamic contrast to designs.

  • With their deep blue hues, sapphires were particularly favoured, often serving as centrepieces and beautifully complemented by the cool tones of platinum settings.
  • Emeralds, cherished for their vivid green colour, were used to inject colour into jewellery.
  • Rubies, with their rich red tones symbolising passion and desire, were likewise frequently set alongside diamonds.

Edwardian rings also featured other gemstones like:

  • Opals, known for their unique play of colour, ranging from fiery oranges to soft blues.
  • Aquamarines, with their subtle pale blue tones, added a gentle, romantic touch. Meanwhile,
  • Amethysts, known for their deep purple hues, contributed a bold yet refined appearance. 

What metals were used?

The Edwardian era was a turning point in the use of metals for jewellery. 

  • For rings in particular, platinum began to take centre stage. Its strength and malleability allowed it to be drawn into fine wires and sheets, paving the way for the era's signature intricate designs and detailed filigree work. Its bright white hue also played a pivotal role, enhancing the brilliance of diamonds and other gemstones. This made it an ideal choice for engagement rings and other decorative pieces.
  • Gold, particularly in shades of yellow and rose, continued to be used. It offered a warm contrast to the incredible sheen of diamonds and colourful gemstones. These gold hues provided a traditional touch amidst the rising popularity of platinum.
  • The latter part of the Edwardian era saw the emergence of

    white gold. As an alternative to platinum, white gold, alloyed with other metals, offered a similar aesthetic at a more accessible price point.

  • During World War I, steel gained prominence due to the scarcity of precious metals. Its strength and versatility were used in various forms of jewellery, though it was less common in ring designs.
The preference for platinum marked a notable departure from the gold-dominated Victorian era. It also set the stage for its continued use in the Art Deco period. The Edwardian era’s choice of metals reflects a blend of innovation, elegance and practical adaptation to changing times.

Why is the Edwardian period popular now?

Today, the Edwardian era enjoys enduring popularity. This is particularly true in the world of jewellery. Renowned for exceptional artisanry and sophisticated design, Edwardian pieces continue to captivate enthusiasts and collectors alike.  

Edwardian jewellery is a harmonious blend of detail and elegance. One of the era's hallmarks is its use of platinum — often paired with diamonds — crafted into intricate, delicate patterns. The designs often feature flowing lines, embodying a refined sophistication. 

Adding to their appeal is their vintage charm. Edwardian rings possess a historical allure that resonates strongly in contemporary fashion. Their timeless elegance makes them highly sought after as collectables and cherished pieces. 

What was the Edwardian era like?

The Edwardian era, nestled between the lavish Victorian era and the onset of World War I, is renowned for its unique style and cultural significance. This era was named in honour of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom (and lasted until 1914 despite his death in 1910). His reign influenced not only politics but also the aesthetics of the time.

This period marked a pivotal transition in jewellery design. Jewellers moved away from the Victorian era's heavy opulence towards a more refined, delicate aesthetic.

This change mirrored the societal shifts of the time, where affluent, leisurely lifestyles — heavily influenced by King Edward's tastes — became a scene for high fashion and luxury.

Jewellery from the Edwardian period is characterised by its intricate work and use of platinum. We also see the influence of Edward’s wife, Queen Alexandra, whose preferences for diamonds, pearls and pastel colours introduced new themes into jewellery design.

Artistically, the Edwardian era was a precursor to the bold Art Deco movement. The outbreak of World War I brought about a practical shift in materials, with jewellers adapting to the times by incorporating non-precious metals like steel. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a ring Edwardian?

Edwardian rings are epitomised by their exquisite craftsmanship and delicate designs. They often resemble lace, wrought primarily in platinum, the era's favoured metal. These rings frequently feature nature-inspired motifs, reflecting the period's affinity for lightness and grace. The introduction of the Asscher cut in 1902 is further typical of Edwardian rings. 

What is the difference between Victorian and Edwardian rings?

Victorian and Edwardian rings present a distinct contrast in style and material.

Victorian rings, symbolic of the earlier era, are noted for their bold, ornate designs, often crafted in gold. In contrast, Edwardian rings display lighter, more intricate designs, favouring platinum over gold. 

What years are Edwardian rings?

Edwardian rings hail from 1901 to 1910, aligning with King Edward VII's reign in the UK. Renowned for their unique style, these rings bridge the Victorian era and prelude Art Deco rings. Some experts extend this timeline to 1914, recognising the enduring impact of Edwardian aesthetics in jewellery design until the onset of World War I.

How do you know if a ring is Edwardian?

Look for specific design traits and craftsmanship to tell if a ring is Edwardian. Platinum use, detailed filigree work and motifs reflecting nature and femininity were common. Asscher-cut diamonds and other gemstone cuts from the early 20th century also indicate Edwardian origin. Hallmarks and craftsmanship styles offer additional clues. If in doubt, seek expert advice before buying.

Are Edwardian rings suitable as engagement rings?

With their timeless elegance and exquisite craftsmanship, Edwardian pieces are highly coveted for engagement rings. Their intricate designs, often adorned with diamonds and romantic motifs, offer a unique and sentimental symbolism.

The durability of platinum makes them suitable for everyday wear, though their age and delicate nature necessitate careful handling. An Edwardian engagement ring is an excellent choice for those who cherish beauty, charm and tradition.