14k Victorian Moss Agate Ring

A warm and lovely c. 1860 – 1880s Victorian era 14k gold ring, set with a large natural dendritic agate in polished cabochon form. Due to a happy accident of nature, the presence of iron and manganese within this agate formed inclusions that appear to look like the imprint of leaves (Gingko or perhaps fern). A jeweler obviously selected the stone for the charm of its inclusion pattern, and decided to feature the natural beauty of the agate in a simple signet-style setting with some engraved decorations at the shoulders.

English and Scottish jewelers first came to prize moss agates as a gem-grade stone in the early 19th century, but it is in the late Victorian era that these pieces became immensely popular. As a protest against industrialization, urbanization, and machine production, the Victorian social-cultural atmosphere increasingly turned towards the naturalistic for inspiration and meaning. From the Luddites to the Aesthetic movement, the late Victorian sensibility was perfectly intune with design elements borrowed from nature, and this ring, with its ‘nature embalmed’ mystique, would have resonated well with Victorians.

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Date: c. 1860 – 1880s, Victorian era

Size: USA 7.75, UK O 1/2, EU 56

Materials: dendritic agate, solid 14k gold (unmarked; tested & confirmed with nitric & muriatic acid)

Weight: 6.1 grams

Dimension of agate: 14.5 x 11.7 mm oval cabochon

Max width of ring face: 15 mm

Max height of ring face: 6 mm

Width of shank: 2.8 – 4 mm

Thickness of shank: 0.86 – 1 mm

Condition: due to age and wear, the gold surface has been worn down and some of the original etched/engraved decorations throughout the shoulders have been lost. There are some light scratches to the gold and agate, including a slightly deeper crescent-shaped scratch to the ring face (please see picture).