The Victorian gypsy ring: a cool addition to the alternative engagement ring scene

Victorian gypsy rings are one of the most distinctive jewels of the Victorian era. Pleasing to look at and also to wear, these chunky yellow gold rings feature one or more diamonds or gems deep-set into the band so that they sit flush with the surface of the gold.

The origin of their name can be traced back to the 19th century, when women would travel through the countryside, fearful that gypsies might try and steal their valuables. In response to how easily they imagined it would be to snatch a gem from a raised claw-set ring, the gypsy ring was invented, which secured the stones snugly in place within, rather than upon, the band.

Gypsy rings have that unapologetic boldness that is the antithesis of a traditional engagement ring, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider one. In fact, if you are looking for a genuinely alternative engagement ring, rather than a ring that has been described as alternative just because it doesn’t feature a round brilliant diamond, then a Victorian gypsy ring could be the answer. With their reassuringly weighty gold bands, often generously sized stones and distinctive settings, there is absolutely no danger you will ever tire of gazing at yours.

We recently added two rings to our website that we immediately fell in love with because they feature super funky star settings, which look very modern even today and are a signature of Victorian gypsy rings. The craftsmen (yes, they were always men back in the Victorian age) responsible for setting the diamonds and rubies more than a century ago would have used a triangular pusher tool to push the gold inwards, creating freeform claws to hold the stones in place and, in the space left behind, the pattern of an eight-pointed star, which gives the rings their beautiful, hand-hewn look.

The ruby and diamond Victorian gypsy ring, which we christened Peggy, has another, very stylish detail: the gold is grooved so that it forms waves of gold around the finger, with the star-set rubies and diamonds positioned in-between the grooves.

We’re based in Brighton, which has hosted many alternative engagements, and it was with these cool, vintage-loving couples in mind that we acquired both Peggy and Annie for our collection.

Our mission? To hunt out vintage engagement rings below £2,000 

Claire Roberts, co-founder of The Vintage Ring Company