RINGS uniquely designed specifically to thwart early 19th century brigands and highwaymen by disguising the value of their gem stones in a robust band are making a comeback among men and women, according to one of London’s leading jewellers.

The so-called ‘gypsy setting’ – sometimes also referred to as a ‘shot’ or ‘burnish-setting’ – involves inlaying the diamond or gemstone securely so it is flush with the surface of the metal band, sitting just below the surface and enjoying maximum protection.

It is an ideal setting for men’s rings but is growing in popularity among women too; especially those with an active lifestyle or a job where they might be concerned about knocking the gemstones in their ring. More recently, increased hand sanitation; washing and hygiene measures have made the style especially practical.

Hancocks London – based in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade and one of the capital’s oldest family-run firms – has been making gypsy rings since it opened its doors in 1849. The style first enjoyed a revival among men in the Sixties and Seventies but, over the past year, Hancocks has reported an uptake in enquiries from men and women and is planning its own bespoke, sustainable gypsy ring collection as a result.

The setting’s name allegedly stems from the early 19th century when travellers might be at risk of robbery or murder for their jewellery. Ostentatious jewellery, with highly visible gemstones, made its wearer a target for highwaymen and brigands. A unique way of avoiding trouble was to set valuable stones flush with an ordinary-looking band to effectively conceal their value.

By the late-Victorian era, the style had become more refined and gypsy set rings were given as symbols of friendship to young girls or by their lovers and husbands. Simple and easy to wear, they were designed with a plain or modestly engraved band, and were set flush with diamonds or other precious stones including rubies, sapphires, garnets, amethysts and emeralds.

Arabella Boyce, Fashion Editor and Celebrity Stylist, comments: “Gypsy set rings are becoming increasingly popular given their versatility and effortless chic. They make a real style statement and work well whether you are wearing a white t-shirt and jeans or a party-ready Little Black dress. I think it’s the simplicity of the design coupled with its wearability that’s a big part of their appeal and they look great too!”

Hancocks London’s new gypsy ring collection features vintage cut diamonds – dating from 1875 to the 1950s – which have been meticulously graded for colour, clarity, cut and carat weight by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s leading gemological laboratory for diamonds. The stones are all set in rings which have been made using recycled gold for the bands. As well as being designed in London, the rings have been made by Hancocks London’s experienced team of master craftsmen who have decades of experience in making these creations and who are also based in London and the surrounding areas.

Hancocks London Director Guy Burton said:

“We have been making gypsy rings since 1849, so we know what we’re doing, but we have seen a real resurgence of interest over the past year. The style of setting actually goes back a long time before they were known as gypsy-set rings and the design proved enduringly popular for hundreds of years.

“Demand is being driven by buyers who want a piece of jewellery that is both sustainable and, at the same time, stylish and one that works with outfits that go from super-smart to uber-casual.

“It’s wonderful to see gypsy rings granted a new lease of life with this new collection featuring contemporary designs together with the fact that each piece is sustainable, featuring beautiful old cut gemstone set in 100 per cent recycled 22 carat.”

He added:

“This new collection epitomises what Hancocks stands for: quality, design, exceptional craftsmanship and exceptional gemstones.”

Joanna Hardy, an independent fine jewellery specialist, author and one of the jewellery experts on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, commented:

“I always remember gypsy rings being very popular as men’s rings in the Seventies and the Eighties, may be it was a showing of wealth but also it is a practical setting for a man where by the stones are set down into the shank so they did not protrude which meant they would not get knocked about. They were always set in heavy shanks so you would have double wealth, the gold and the diamonds!

“The gyspy ring design has stood the test of time and the best ones make great heirlooms to pass from generation to generation and are very much in style as much now as they did in the late 19th century.”

Hancocks London Gypsy Ring Collection will be previewed at Hancocks London’s Mayfair premises this summer and will also go on sale online at Prices range from £3,500 up to £295,000 and bespoke commissions can also be made upon request.

MB Communications Ltd

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