If you love antiques, and you're in London, there is only one place that you absolutely cannot miss, it's called Gray's Antique Centre and it houses hundreds of dealers selling everything from ancient artifacts to art deco gems! Gray's can be found hiding just off of Oxford Street in a lovely terracotta wedge of a building in the heart of London's West End (speaking of west ends, the building was built in the 19th century by John Bolding and Son as a toilet factory - hence the nickname 'John' for toilet). Give yourself some time because Gray's has actually spread out over the years and now sprawls over two floors of two adjoining buildings. It's enough to make even the most novice antiquer giddy as a schoolgirl!
I found this ring at Gray's on a Thursday morning. Handcrafted in 18 karat gold, this highly stylized signet ring is set with a smooth, uncarved oval of carnelian. The scrolling column motif has a hint of Egyptian revival styling and while this ring is unmarked, I highly suspect that it dates to about 1890-1900. It feels like a French ring to me, it has a soft finish to the gold, it's unmarked, so there's no way of knowing its true origins. I've acid tested it to verify that it is, indeed, 18 karat gold. It has a nice weighty feel at 8.3 grams. This ring is a size 6 but could be resized up or down by a size or two, probably more up than down because I think it was resized down already at some point. The carnelian measures 12.5 mm x 10.3 mm x 3 mm deep and the overall top of the ring measures 21.3 mm north south, 15.5 mm across and sits 3.5 off of the finger.
This wonderful ring is very crisp and super stylie, perfect for a woman or man.
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I could have worn it on the pinky, like a gentleman does. I could have shaken hands and shown it off, tilting it toward the light just so. I could have slipped it onto a chain and left it hang there for the world to see so obviously.
“Victoria, what’s on your forefinger?”
“Bloodstone, my dear.”
“You sure know how to dress for an occasion.”
“I certainly like to think so.” I let the ring sit there, on the forefinger resting on my hip. It wasn’t asking for attention but somehow it was getting it anyway. Honestly, I wasn’t about to argue, fate is as fate does.
This Victorian bloodstone signet ring was handcrafted in England around 1890. It’s an antique piece with an oval flat-cut bloodstone at the center, bezel set in 18 karat gold. The bloodstone measures 11 x 9.4 x 2.4 mm. The ring face measures 13.3 x 11.3 x 3 mm off the finger and the band width is 3.6 mm at the back. This ring is a size 5.5 US and it weighs 5.4 grams. It bears the crown mark for England and the gold purity mark, “18”. The maker’s mark reads, “S.B&S”.
A ring like this has power, it has glory, it has that something you just can’t quite put your finger on. I think it’s time you got to wear it.
We were at Tower Restaurant, enjoying the dark Belgian chocolate terrine on a terrace with a remarkable view of the city, when I reached for my Negroni. My finger caught a glint of the fading pink sunlight.
“I hide you in here, you know?” I asked as I saw his eyes dart towards it.
“Do you now?” he asked back, with a laugh in his eye.
“I do.” I said sincerely and returned the silent chuckle.
I took a sip, listening to the sounds of the Royal Mile, and drinking in the company I’d chosen to keep. We laughed long after the sun had evanesced.
This gorgeous and highly unusual locket-ring was handcrafted in Scotland around 1800. It was made in 9 karat gold and features a lion rampant intaglio with a hidden locket that tucks inside the ring face. The initials, “A.F.” can be found on the front, right below the lion. There are a variety of hallmarks, it bears early Scottish marks that date it to 1799-1800 in Edinburgh. It also has a set of later assay marks, bearing the gold purity marks, “9” and “.375”, the letter, “c”, the queen in profile, the letter, “T”, and patent marks, “PAT 706” and “148”. The ring face measures 13.4 mm north to south, 13 mm across, and 3.4 mm off the finger. The band width narrows to 2.3 mm at the back. This Georgian ring is a size 10 and it weighs 5.7 grams.
Indulge your finger in antique gold, with hidden compartments and mysterious initials. This is one of my favorite pieces, I love the tiny details that require second glances. This ring is filled with symbolism known to the original wearer and my imagination has been running wild with curiosity ever since I got my hands on it in Scotland earlier this year.
The salt in the air from the Thames gave me goosebumps. I felt the thickness of humidity as I sat at Battersea Park beneath a strawberry tree. I was in the company of clever friends and the last of the morning dew.
“Ever consider something simpler to wear so early in the day, Victoria?”
“I never consider things before breakfast, my dear.”
“Then how did you end up in gold and pearls?”
“Instinct my darling, instinct.”
This Edwardian buckle ring was handcrafted in London in 1909. This antique engraved ring is in the shape of a buckle, or garter, set with two creamy white pearls atop an engraved scrolling floral motif. Each of the pearls measure 2.4 mm. This piece measures 7.2 mm in band width and 1.6 mm off the finger. It weighs 7.9 grams and is a size 7. This ring has been fully hallmarked as it bears the crown mark for England, the gold purity mark, “18” indicating it was made in 18 karat gold, the leopard head mark for London, and the date letter, “o”. The maker’s mark reads, “C.K&Co”.
Saunter around in this romantic buckle ring, a symbol of eternity and love. It’s a sturdy yet feminine bauble crafted to show off and to shine.
This beautiful antique bauble was handcrafted during the Arts & Craft movement, around 1900 in England. It was made by Bernard Instone, the highly regarded silversmith of the later British Arts & Crafts; he was strongly influenced by nature, as this ring clearly states. At the center is an oval cabochon amethyst, measuring 14 x 10 x 8.2 mm. It sits between shoulders featuring a leaf and flower motif. The ring face measures 18.8 mm north to south, 15 mm across, and 10.7 mm off the finger. The band width narrows to 2.2 mm at the back. This piece bears no marks and has been acid tested; it was made in silver. This ring is a size 7.25 and weighs 5.3 grams.
Forget minimalism, here’s some maximalism. You know what goes great with a Bernard Instone ring? A manicure. Treat yourself. You’ve earned it.