Edwardian engagement rings, strictly speaking, include those produced after the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 until the death of her son, Edward VII in 1920. However, the Edwardian period is frequently extended to include the years up to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and even the First World War from 1914 to 1918.
Edwardian engagement rings were influenced by a complex array of social, artistic and the economic climate. While Victoria had shunned society, Edward was the leader of a fashionable elite which set a style influenced by the art and fashions of continental Europe, encouraged by the King's fondness for travel. Indeed, the Edwardian period is sometimes imagined as a romantic golden age of long summer afternoons and garden parties.
The styles and designs of Edwardian engagement rings are still very popular today, reflecting the sophisticated fashion of this period. Edwardian engagement rings usually include antique stones in Old Mine or Old European cuts, though todays versions are often set with round brilliant cut diamonds for extra sparkle.
It was during the Edwardian period that the use of platinum in fine jewellery became particularly popular. Platinum's superior strength allowed Edwardian engagement rings to be more elaborate than could be achieved in gold, and so Edwardian engagement rings became more fine and intricate than their Victorian predecessors, often featuring filigree detail.
Platinum's superior strength also allowed very fine settings to be created for Edwardian engagement rings, giving a light and even invisible appearance. Platinums white sheen also highlighted diamonds to excellent effect, and pearls were used for the same reason. Coloured gemstones also experienced a resurgence in popularity.
King Edwards wife Alexandra was particularly fond of amethyst. Within the suffragette movement, amethyst was sometimes combined with pearls and peridots - the green, white and violet stones standing for Give Women the Vote. Rather than diamonds, sapphires were often used as the main gemstone in Edwardian engagement rings, with diamonds used as side stones.
If you're looking to propose with an Edwardian engagement ring, you can choose from both real and replica Edwardian engagement rings, or may wish to consider commissioning a bespoke engagement ring with an Edwardians-style design. Just make sure if you're looking for a bespoke jeweller on the internet that you choose somebody with the appropriate experience in creating Edwardian engagement rings.