Paste continued to be used for jewellery throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century. In the 19th century, both gold and silver was used, the jewellery was often well designed and might be set with precious or semi precious stones. Necklaces like rivieres were set with colourless or coloured paste stones and were worn at night. Sentimental jewellery also involved less expensive materials. Paste was used, too, in a range of jewellery representing animals, such as monkeys, birds and reptiles.
And it was used in rings and I thought it would be worth while looking at three rings I have that contain paste. They were made in the 1860s -70s. At this time, more and more inexpensive paste jewellery was beginning to be produced but so were good quality items like these rings. They are made of 15ct gold. One has Birmingham hallmarks and the other two are stamped 15ct and have maker’s marks. Only mourning rings and wedding rings had to be hallmarked from 1855 but goldsmiths could chose to have gem set rings assayed for hallmarking.
The first ring has a centre green paste stone, a border of six half pearls and a green paste stone on each shoulder, set in sawtooth settings with closed back. The band is lightly chased.
The second ring has a central red paste stone, with eight green paste stones and six seed pearls in sawtooth settings. The bezel design is very ornate with wavy sides and small gold beads. The band is lightly engraved.
The third ring is a kite shaped bezel with a central green paste stone and a border of eight half pearls. The band is plain, consistent with the date it was made, 1872 in Birmingham. The back is closed.
These three rings are clearly intended to imitate rings made with real emeralds and rubies and have the same design as those with precious stones.
Paste was to become very popular again at the turn of the century and into the Art Deco period, leading to the development of costume jewellery that was designed to complement an outfit rather than to imitate more expensive jewellery.