Opal of the Magyars

Historicism ring with Hungarian opal & diamonds, Vienna circa 1890

When one thinks of opals, the iridescent gemstones from Australia usually come to mind. But opals were also mined in Europe until the late 19th century! The only mine that produced these precious stones in jewelry quality was in the Magyar Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary. Hungarian opals are characterized by a particularly strong play of colors and the gemstones, which quickly advanced to the national stones of Hungary, can be found in many pieces of jewelry of this country, especially in the area of folk costumes. After the coronation of Emperor Franz-Josef I in 1867 as King of Hungary, opals also became a "must have" in Vienna, the capital of the Habsburg Empire. Here numerous splendid pieces of jewellery were created, featuring the dazzling gemstones from the new crown land, and adorned the ladies and gentlemen of Viennese society. Here we have a ring made of gold which presents a Hungarian opal. The airy openwork ring head is shaped like a boat and juxtaposes the oval opal cabochon with two diamond roses. The ring shoulders, also openworked, display floral vine ornaments that reveal the rich formal language of historicism. Colourful and elegant, the ring, which came to us from Vienna in an antique case, is an impressive example of Austro-Hungarian jeweller's art from around 1890.

The journey into the past has retained its appeal right up to the present day. Again and again artists and designers deal with the fashions and forms of past times: Not only postmodernism lived from the recourse to antiquity, but also Picasso loved the classical period and the punk Vivienne Westwoods the baroque. In the 19th century, enthusiasm for the past was even greater. People of the time associated gang concrete qualities with the different artistic styles of their ancestors. For the castles of the nobility, they used the Baroque and Rococo styles to express splendor and grandeur. Churches were often built in the Gothic style, since the Middle Ages were considered a particularly devout period - and the bourgeoisie was particularly fond of the Renaissance. This epoch of free cities with its government of free citizens, rich merchants and patrons of the arts such as the Fuggers in Augsburg or the Medici in Florence exerted a special attraction on the aspiring class of merchants and factory owners of the 19th century. They recognized themselves and their desire for participation and importance in the state in the personalities of the past, had themselves painted in the style of the past and also bought jewelry in the style of the Renaissance.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.