Today, we’re welcoming a guest to Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers. Love on a Midsummer Night is the second book in Christy English’s Shakespeare in Love series of novels in which the stories are based on Shakespearean themes. You can read our review here.
When I wrote my novel, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, I did not know that wealthy people in Regency England rarely bothered with betrothal rings. The exception to this rule was if the gentleman and lady knowingly entering into a long engagement. In that case, a betrothal ring could be offered, and accepted, to seal the commitment in advance.
In my novel, Earl Pembroke rediscovers the love of his life, a woman who left him ten years before, taking his mother’s ruby ring with her. The ring is given to her as a symbol of their engagement, and just one more way in which my hero bucks the system, and strikes out on his own. When he gave her the ring, he did not expect to take ten years to marry her.
It turns out that in reality, Regency brides did not expect betrothal rings. Though in wealthy marriages, money and property often exchanged hands, engagements were usually short, and rings were rarely if ever given.
This is a far cry from a few decades later in English history, when Queen Victoria was given a snake engagement ring by her betrothed, Prince Albert.
In this, as in so many other things, the wealthy British public were quick to emulate their queen. Different types of engagement rings abounded, the favorite being the snake ring, a la Victoria. South African mines had not opened yet to British interests, so the large, single stone rings of the twentieth century had not yet come into vogue. Instead, the rings were often cast in yellow gold and rose gold, with colored jewels and smaller diamonds arranged in patterns on the band.
According to the fabulous site http://www.victoriana.com/bridal/wedding-rings.htm, opals, pearls, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies were worked into these rings. The Victorian lady also sometimes received a beautiful cluster setting like the one below. You may be familiar with this idea from the Twilight films and books, in which Edward gives Bella such a ring.
Though Regency ladies didn’t receive rings, wealthy Victorian ladies had a bit of bling to look forward to when they accepted a man’s proposal. Nothing like jewelry to make true love even more exciting.
After years of acting in Shakespeare’s plays, Christy English is excited to bring the Bard to Regency England. When she isn’t drinking tea, hiking or chasing the Muse, Christy writes historical novels (The Queen’s Pawn and To Be Queen) from her home in North Carolina. Please visit her at http://www.ChristyEnglish.com