Half hoop rings, cluster rings and snake rings continued to be popular but there were a few new styles, such as sentimental rings with simple messages, like Mizpah, engraved on them. The name ‘Mizpah’ is taken from Genesis 31.49: ‘It was also called Mizpah, (which means watchtower) because he said, ‘May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other’. They were often given when couples were to be parted, perhaps by war. According to ‘The Englishwomen’s Domestic Magazine’ in 1874, Mizpah rings (and brooches) were given as valentines. They became popular in the 1880s and onwards.

Victorian mizpah ring, 1880

Gypsy-set rings, where the stone is sunk into the surface of the bezel, was introduced in the late 1860s but were to reach the height of popularity during the last quarter of the 19th century. Relatively inexpensive, they became a common ring style. Many had the stones set in a star setting. They were an ideal ring for day wear.

Victorian gypsy ring with rubies and diamond

Half hoop rings, like the white opal and diamond ring below, were to stay popular well into the 20th century. Rather than stones all of the same size, the hoop rings were often graduated with the centre stone being slightly larger. Others were set with tiny stones, usually diamonds, between the main gems in the hoop. The ring settings generally sat higher above the finger. Some stones were set in a boat shape across the finger.

Late Victorian opal and diamond ring (in Navette on Ruby Lane)

As I mentioned in the previous post, snake rings became wider, with many loops wrapped around the finger, quite a move away from the delicate style earlier in the century.

Snake ring with textured body, yellow sapphire crest and diamond eyes.

Mourning rings were becoming less common as the century progressed and mourning rules relaxed but there were some being produced. The use of onyx carved into a forget-me-knot flower was typical of the period.

Victorian mourning ring with hair and onyx, 18