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What is An Antique Split Ring

Gold Split Rings Explained

Often deemed an obscure item of jewellery, the split ring is at once a highly versatile, stylish and timeless piece. Even though you might never have heard of a split ring before, once you gain a taster for their versatility, you will soon realise quickly what your jewellery collection is missing.

Today, we associate split rings with perhaps very utilitarian tasks, like keeping your keys all in one place, but actually to the creative eye, they offer so much more. Antique Gold split rings are known for being decorative, and the probably the subtlest way to own and covet a piece of solid Gold! Antique split rings, like their modern descendants, have a “split” opening section, which can be prised apart and a charm added to their body. Once shut, the split opening closes tight, promising that your new favourite keepsake keeps safe.

This may be surprising, but the Georgians in particular had a penchant for Gold split rings. Whilst the flashiest of 18th century elite had solid 15ct Gold split rings or 9ct Gold split rings, they also had Gold-cased split rings too, giving the wearer the security and hard-wearing capabilities of base metal but with a little Gold flourish.

Antique Gold split rings are the most common type of antique split rings out there. Each era has their own characteristics and looks, and they were often just another item of jewellery to show off the era's symbolism.

How to Spot an Antique Gold Split Ring

So, you may have decided now that you want a split ring in your jewellery box - because who else can say that they have a completely unique and inherently antique style of jewellery? When searching for that perfect antique Gold split ring, there are a few discernable features to look out for.

The Ouroboros / Snake Split Ring

It is no secret that the Georgians and Victorians loved symbolism, and an antique split ring was just another article of jewellery in which symbolism found a home!

One of the main sssssssssss-symbols was an Ouroboros or snake. The circular sphere of the split ring was the perfect imaginative rendition for a coiled serpent, often crafted with the head of the snake eating its tail.

But what exactly does it mean? The Ouroboros is a symbol steeped in history. Tied to the ancient art of alchemy, the Ouroboros travelled from ancient Egypt to Greece, and is often associated with the emotionally charged meaning of life's cyclical nature.

Because of these associations, you may find the Ouroboros split ring paired with mourning jewellery, as it was a fitting symbol to honour and respect the dead.

Engraved Details

One of our favourite parts of discovering new parts of antique jewellery is that no matter the era, the Georgians, Victorians or Edwardians, they LOVED ornamentation. So, it was no wonder that split rings were not exempt from engravings.

From fancy florals to chased swirls and angular box-edges, the split ring may be small, but it is certainly mighty when it comes to engravings. Georgian split rings flowed with florals and swirls, a testament to the 17th and 18th century rococo and baroque stylistic influences of the time. These are great for adding a feminine touch to your outfit, and we surmise would look gorgeous with either a plain solid Gold locket or charm or matched with overtly ornamented fob.

The Victorian era split rings saw a variety of details, from smooth Gold circles to crisp facets. In our opinion, the smooth buttery Gold split rings are the perfect holder for modern, vintage and antique charms alike, but the faceted and box-edged split rings always offer something a little more different to the eye.

Accompanying Fobs

If you are perusing an antique or vintage market, you may find an antique Gold split ring attached to a neighbouring fob. In the Georgian and Victorian era, fobs were weighty and ornamented pendants that were used to weigh down pocket watches and secure them across a gentleman's waistcoat. These fobs were often attached to split rings, and as a result, you can often find the two still attached together.



How to Style A Gold Split Ring For Charms 

Add Length to Chains

Notably for their understated beauty, Gold split rings are the perfect way to add length to a or customise a contemporary, antique or vintage Gold chain. Antique Albert chains are the perfect way to experiment with this. Most of our antique Albert chains are blessed with either two antique dog clips or a dog clip bolt ring combo. As mentioned in our 6 ways to style an antique Gold chain, we mentioned being bold and daring by styling the large historic clasps at the front of the neck, or perhaps using them as charm holders. A split ring is just another versatile extension of this, and can be looped through two dog clips and a body in which you could hang multiple charms of your choosing!

In fact, the added bonus of a large split ring, is that they could add that little extra desired length to a chain, perfect for when you want to get your stacking game juuuuuuust right!

Trio of Charms

Our 6 years of treasure treks have taken us far and wide, and as a result we have uncovered some adorable antique and vintage charms as a result. Yet, we rescue most of these charms and they often need a little TLC, whether thats a new jump ring added or they are transformed into a conversion piece. What’s more, we metal purity test each piece too, and we may find a solid Gold fob with a Gold-cased split ring. For these little charms and split rings, they are a match made in heaven, and you can find yourself with a one-of-a-kind combination of your dreams!

But why wear one charm, when you could wear 3?

For many people, 3 is a lucky number, and what better way to celebrate this than a sweet trio of charms on a lovely engraved antique Gold split ring.


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Molly Chatterton

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