Rings - Regency Period and Jane Austen

It's quite challenging to spot rings in regency films; the actresses and actors are usually moving their hands around, and the camera focuses on their faces. However, if you look at historical records, you get a sense of the style of jewelry being purchased and worn in the Regency period in England.

The regency period focused highly on natural beauty. Women and men wore very little jewelry; the showcase was on their skin, their hair, their eyes, and so on. In "Persuasion" by Jane Austen one of the characters goes on at length at how important complexion was.

Women often wore a thin string of pearls, or perhaps a small cross. Half the time they didn't wear earrings at all. When they did, the earrings were delicate and simple, perhaps a pearl at each ear. So it is safe to say that they did not have their hands encrusted with tons of gigantic jewels. Instead, they wore very slender, simple jewelry.

I own an antique Regency era ring from 1810-1820. It has never been resized and is a size 7. The metal here is 9k rose gold. Rose gold is a mixture of gold with mostly copper and some silver. The copper gives the gold a lovely rose color, hence its name. Just as with regular gold jewelry, the "k" of rose gold is the amount of pure gold in the ring. The top value of 24k is 100% gold, but gold is quite soft so this would be a not-durable type of jewelry. Most people therefore have gold mixed with other metals so their rings, bracelets, etc. are more durable. When a gold ring says 18k, it means it is 75% gold and 25% other metals like copper or silver. The copper or silver gives the ring the strength not to rub away every time you put it on or off your finger. So a 9k ring, whether gold or rose gold, would have 38% gold and 62% other metals. In the case of rose gold the 70% is known to be mostly copper with a bit of silver.

This rose gold regency ring features five 15pt flat-cut garnets in a forget-me-not shape, also known as the Maltese Cross shape. Garnet was a loved gem of the era; it symbolized faithfulness and dependability. The term of the era was "constancy". Topaz was also a popular stone in regency days. It also represents constancy. Jane Austen was known to wear a topaz cross. If you are looking for a ring to wear to a regency event, or simply for your own regency mood, it should be simple and elegant. It should ideally feature garnets or topaz.

Here are images of my ring. According to the seller, the forked shoulder and fluted shank are both typical of the 1810-1820 period. I paid $369 for this from an antiques dealer. It is not for sale.

regency garnet ring regency garnet ring regency garnet ring

To show another style of Regency ring, here is a 15k turqouise ring from 1820. An antiques dealer is selling it for $1075; click on the image for more details. (I do not know the dealer; I simply found this on the web.

regency ring turqouise

A type of ring that was worn fairly consistently was a morning ring. This was a ring that was worn when someone passed away; it often held a lock of hair from that person within it. This way the wearer could constantly remember that beloved person. In the example below, the ring is 18k gold with black enamel and a rock quartz face. An Etsy seller is selling it for $390. Again I do not know the dealer; it is simply a web find.

regency mourning ring quartz

In terms of wedding rings, usually only the woman wore one, and often it was a simple silver band.

Note when you search on the web for regency jewelry that there was a COMPANY named Regency that made big, gawdy rhinestone designs in the 1950s. This is NOT REGENCY ERA JEWELRY :)

Regency Rings - simple in design
Regency Necklaces - crosses, pearls
Regency Earrings - wire, not posts

Regency Period Information