1866 Civil War Era Victorian Amethyst Ring with Diamonds 18k Gold

An ethereal American 19th century 18k gold solitaire ring with an open gallery set amethyst inlaid with three small rose-cut diamonds. The ring’s inner shank is incised as follows–

“G.P. From Mother. 1866.”

American-made fine jewelry datable to the Civil War era by inscription are rare. Jewelers working in 19th c America were not regulated by the same hallmarking requirements as their counterparts in Britain; the vast majority of antique American jewelry cannot be dated by assay office year stamps. Private date inscriptions like the one on this ring are thus a time-traveler’s bill of passage: it places a certain object to a definitive moment in history; what was once a personal note from a mother to a daughter can today help jewelry collectors and fashion/art historians trace a stylistic design and consign a date to it.

The American Civil War, fought between 1861 – 1865, remains to this day the bloodiest conflict in American history. One in four soldiers who entered duty never returned home, leading to a total estimated death toll of 620,000 men (taken as a percentage of the current USA population, this would be the equivalent of six million men dying today). The war was also economically devastating, leading to runaway debt and inflation, as well as widespread destruction of arable farmland, personal and public property.

In 1866, the year this ring was gifted, the nation was in a state of limbo: the war had officially ended when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox Court House April 9th, 1865; six days later Abraham Lincoln was assasinated at Ford’s Theatre. Reconstruction would not officially begin until March 2nd 1867. The preceding grueling conflict had fundamentally transformed how Americans perceived death, warfare, and calamity– and bereft many women of husbands, sons, and fathers. And yet despite it all, this ring seems unburdened by the uncertainties and anguish of the age. Of elegant solitaire form, the 1.4 carat amethyst catches light extremely well; the inlaid rose-cut diamonds seem to float in a halo of purple light. Airy and bright, this ring encapsulates the hopes of a mother for the happiness and wellbeing of her daughter during an era when such concepts were more ineffable than ever.

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Date: 1866 (by inscription), American Civil War Era

Ring size: USA 5 3/4, UK L 1/4, EU 52

Materials: amethyst, diamonds, solid 18k gold (acid tested and checked with neodymium magnet)

Weight: 2.2 grams

Dimension of amethyst: 8 x 10 x 3.2 mm, approx. 1.4 carats

Diameter of diamonds: 1.3 mm (smallest), 2.4 mm (largest)

Width of shank: 2.5 mm

Thickness of shank: 1.2 mm

Sourced from: a Mount Dora, Florida estate

Condition: excellent antique condition