1890s Belle Epoque Pearl Old European Cut Diamond Ring

An ethereal and lovely turn-of-the-century European engagement ring, likely crafted in Germany or France, and set in the center with a pairing of a large 5 mm natural pearl with a 0.28 ct 4.25 mm carat diamond. The two stone arrangement has long been a popular design in continental engagement rings, and can be traced back to Empress Joséphine’s own diamond and sapphire engagement ring. Fondly named ‘toi et moi’ (you and me) by the French, the selection of two different type of gemstones for the ring represents the coming together of two souls.

The ring is additionally framed with 10 mine cut diamonds set in a laurel-like leafy openwork setting, and flanked on both side of the shoulder with two more 2 mm old cut diamonds. Together there are about 0.44 ctw of diamonds. The setting is solid 14k gold topped with .925 silver (which was the traditional material to preserve the purity of pearls and diamonds, before the rise of platinum and white gold in the 1920s).

Much of this ring represents the opulent elegance of the 1890-1900s Belle Époque era. Cushioned between the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the outbreak of WWI, Belle Époque Europe enjoyed an era of profound peace, prosperity, and general optimism. Much of Belle Époque jewelry seem buoyed by a sense of weightless glamour: designed in the Beaux Arts empire revival style, these pieces were almost always encrusted with diamonds and pearls (the most expensive gems of the day) and bore designs that were light, airy, and unmistakably refined. Common motifs included laurel leaves, bows, laces, garlands, and various foliate patterns.

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Date: 1890 -1900s, Belle Époque / late Victorian – Edwardian era

Size: USA 6.75, UK M 1/2, EU 53.5 (resizable up or down two sizes)

Materials: diamond, natural pearl, 14k gold, .925 silver (top of setting only)

Marks: [585] for solid 14k gold
[jeweler’s mark] illegible due to wear

Weight: 3 grams

Dimension of ring face: 12.7 x 15 mm

Diameter of diamonds: one 4.25 mm (~0.28 ct), two 2 mm (0.06 ctw), ten 1.25 mm (~ 0.1 ctw)

Approxiate total weight of diamonds: 0.44 carats

Approximate color & clarity of central diamond: L-M, VVS2-VS1 (eye clean)

Diameter of natural pearl: 5 mm

Width of shank: 1.2 – 2 mm

Thickness of shank: 1.4 – 2.6 mm

Condition: under 60x magnification, I can see a tiny surface chip to the far corner of the diamond. It is buried out by the edge and not visible to the naked eye. Nonetheless, I’ve priced this ring modestly due to this flaw.