An Edwardian Love Affair with Sapphires and Diamonds

The gilded age of the Edwardian era is characterized by decadence and luxury, and this clearly extended to the jewelry that women of that time wore as a display of their social status. Engagement and wedding rings were no exception, and the relatively new invention of electricity allowed the jewelry to sparkle and shine when worn inside like never before. Women traveling in first class on Titanic took the opportunity to showcase their wealth and jewels during dinners in the first-class dining rooms on board the Ship. Styles were light and delicate but the popularity of expensive gems such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies led to more elaborate and sophisticated designs.

While the tradition of presenting engagement rings as a symbol of intended betrothal is one that dates back to the ancient Greeks, the more modern practice began in the medieval period when the Catholic church instituted a mandatory engagement period before marriage. A sapphire was a commonly used precious stone as it represented romantic love, truth and commitment.

In Britain, the use of sapphires in engagement rings became even more popular when soon to be Prince Consort Albert presented Queen Victoria a sapphire and diamond ring the day before they were married. The use of sapphires in royal engagement rings was then reestablished nearly 141 years later when Prince Charles gave a similar style ring to Lady Diana, which of course was recently given to Catherine Middleton by Prince William as her engagement ring, honoring his late mother. 

One of the remarkable rings featured in Jewels of Titanic, a diamond and sapphire ring, would have been considered very en vogue at the time Titanic set sail. The sapphire and diamond ring is comprised of 18 karat yellow gold and platinum with a natural blue sapphire surrounded by multiple small diamonds in pear-shaped petals. Although delicate and petite, this exquisite dinner ring may have graced the slim fingers of a young wife. It sparkles and commands attention – of the right sort, of course.