The Dreamy Antique Ring That is Making Waves in the Jewellery World Right Now: The Gypsy Ring
If you know a thing or two about jewellery and engagement ring trends, you have likely seen the humble “Gypsy” ring emerge on the neatly manicured fingers of jewellery influencers. Today moulded into voluptuous “bomb” designs or flat slabs of Gold, this sleek and sophisticated ring has been touted as a major engagement ring trend for 2021! Not to mention, its inherent symbolism and historic provenance will resonate with the post-covid-19 world; A world that is craving connection, whether it's to the past or to the ones you love.
“Gypsy” rings are also always one of the favourite pieces that come into the office. In fact, if you could hear conversations exchanged between Lillicoco’s staff and colleagues, it's always along the lines of “I really want an antique “Gypsy” ring one day”. From the celestial star-set settings and multi-coloured gemstones, “Gypsy” rings are a wonderful and timeless piece for everyday living. But if you are reading this and you have no idea what we are talking about, let’s delve into why “Gypsy” rings are so magical!
The Little Story of Gypsy Rings
To put it simply we don’t actually know the etymological provenance as to why “Gypsy” rings are called “Gypsy” rings. The “Gypsy” element actually refers to the way that the gemstone is set into the band, and as far as we are aware, is not directly-related to the Roma ethnic group. Also called the flush-mount setting, the gemstone becomes part of the ring’s structure and part of its identity, and it literally appears to sit flush with the band, with the precious metal cradling the gemstone.
This setting was used as far back as the ancient Roman civilisations, where gemstones like Agates and Carnelians were sat flush with bands of signet rings. But we surmise that the “Gypsy” setting first earned its name in the Victorian period, where, with the sophistication of silversmithing materials, they became very popular and worn by pretty much everyone in society!
Medieval Diamond Spinel Gold Ring, c.1450, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
In fact, "Gypsy" rings were actually first worn by men! Just like signet rings, the robust, chunky and at times bulbous shapes of "Gypsy" rings were widely adopted by Victorian gentleman. Plus, it was a less flashy and flamboyant way of showing off gemstones. That being said, it soon evolved into women’s jewellery, and especially so during the Victorian aesthetic period (c.1885-1900).
Ring Illustrations by John Brogden, c.1860s (You can see the "Gypsy" setting in the middle), Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
During the mid to late Victorian period, Victorian jewellery took three different routes: the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau movement, and the Aesthetic movement. These three movements had their own defined style, but they easily overlapped and influenced one another. That being said, in all three movements there was a general feminisation in jewellery. This was enhanced through the industrial revolutions development of new technologies and the access to more gemstone mines. For instance, there was a voracious appetite for multi-coloured bright gems and fine intricate details.
In regards to "Gypsy" rings they started to have characterful “star-set” settings. This was where the craftsmen would use a small triangular tool to push the Gold inwards towards the stone, creating a form of “claw” that would hold it in place, and as a result also create a star-like triangular engraving. The settings would then be framed by grooves, panels, hellenistic details, crescent moons and lines.
Victorian Diamond "Gypsy" Ring, c.1890, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
"Gypsy" rings didn't change their overtly feminine nature until post-modernism and today. They were still widely worn in the Edwardian periods, but were pushed aside for the flashy and bold ring designs of the Art Deco and Mid-century jewellery. However, in the past few years, we have seen their graceful rise to the top of trends once again!
The reason as to why the world has re-fallen in love with "Gypsy" is because they are very very wearable. Unlike solitaire or pronged settings, the gemstone sits further into the band, so it's very secure and is less likely to be scratched or chipped. For the modern woman, this is ideal. You can easily wear your Gypsy ring to the shops, out with girlfriends or typing away on your computer screen. It’s this wearability that has also made them a popular understated engagement ring option too. In fact, the setting was so sought after that it was also used for pendants and cufflinks.
In Victorian "Gypsy" rings, smaller gemstones in trilogy or five-stone combinations were all the rage. But today, jewellery designers are choosing larger gemstones in angular baguette cuts and classic pear. The resulting has a more effortless laissez-faire finish than your average engagement ring, smoothly fitting in with other Gold or Silver rings that you own.
Traditionally "Gypsy" rings were given as friendship bands, which is why this symbolism is ever more pertinent in the current climate. The world of Covid-19 has separated many of us from our loved ones, meaning that its all the more important to honour the connections that we have to one another. A "Gypsy" ring, whether a modern, vintage or antique iteration is a wonderful way to pay testament to and honour the friendship that you have. Not to mention, the unique celestial settings will always ask rouse questions about what these rings inherent beauty and history, so you can tell them all about the history of "Gypsy" rings!
How to Style an Antique Gypsy Ring
Whether you are prone to a heavy-handed ring stack or you like to wear only one or two rings everyday, then what we love the most about antique “Gypsy” rings is that they are endlessly versatile and can traverse all personalities and styles.
Beautiful enough to be worn on their own, and understated enough to blend into a hot hand stack, gypsy rings can be styled more than just a few ways. Here are a few pictures of how we have styled these beautiful rings in the past:
From the simple…
To the overstated…
And of course, a pristine manicure always completes the outfit once and for all.
From our perspective, it’s always so lovely to see a style of antique ring be on trend once again, especially when current jewellers are reinvigorating a classic and adding their own personal stamp. This is proof of just how cyclical fashion and jewellery trends are, so you can make an eco-friendly sustainable jewellery choice whilst still embracing the stylish and chic person you are born to be! Despite all of these gorgeous contemporary “Gypsy” ring designs, antique “Gypsy” rings will always have our heart.
So, why not dig through your grandmother’s jewellery box, or browse our ongoing collection of antique and vintage “Gyspy” rings here!