Call us oldies, but vintage engagement rings are exquisite jewelry pieces. It’s not every day that you get engaged and possess a classic ring. However, you can hardly find authentic ones in the market nowadays. Most of these jewelry pieces don’t acquire the properties that constitute a genuine vintage piece.
What are Vintage Engagement Rings and Where to Find Them
When you’re about to propose to the love of your life, you might be overwhelmed with the idea of buying her a special engagement ring. And vintage engagement rings are one of the most elegant options in the market. However, buyers should be cautious in picking out vintage style engagement rings to avoid getting ripped off and wasting money.
It’s crucial to assess this jewelry piece and have its authenticity verified before checking out. Knowing where to find a genuine one also counts. To help you out, we’ve curated some of the things you need to know before making a big purchase on that coveted vintage engagement ring.
What is a Vintage Style Engagement Ring?
Authentic vintage engagement rings possess an antique style. This kind of ring is often given as an heirloom. With jewelry in general, any kind from 20 until 99 years will count as vintage. And anything beyond 99 years falls under the antique category.
Contrary to popular belief, when labeling something vintage, there isn’t any monetary value or specific quality in place. In the case of rings, the sole determinant in categorizing them as vintage is their age.
Since age is the determining factor, vintage rings cross numerous eras. However, vintage style engagement rings may not necessarily be vintage in age, but they possess a style that emulates vintage ones.
Vintage Engagement Rings Eras
Although age is the main factor to look out for in vintage engagement rings, the style also plays a huge role. Even modern pieces from the 1990s could technically be referred to as vintage. Here are four eras that modern vintage engagement rings often emulate:
Victorian Era (1835-1900)
Victorian engagement rings possess a wide variety of styles and designs. The jewelry in this era could be subdivided into early, middle, and late-period styles. Designs of rows, halos, and clustered diamonds became famous during this period.
The popular color during the Victorian Era was blue since it was Queen Victoria’s favorite color. However, people at that time were also fond of pearls, moonstones, and opals. While large diamonds were uncommon in this era, people often wore diamond solitaires like the one in this Natalie Diamonds review. Victorian motifs included birds, hearts, bows, and snakes. And the common choice for modern style is the bypass setting.
Edwardian Era (1900-1920)
If you happen to be a fan of rings with intricate and lacey designs, you’d definitely love a piece of good Edwardian jewelry. Rings from this era were made from platinum with intricate metalwork called “filigree” in designs. The filigree metalwork features vines, scrolls, and ribbons.
Colored gemstones appeared in jewelry more frequently, and the common cuts were old mine cuts, rose cuts, and European cuts. Floral jewelry motifs were also popular during this period.
Art Deco Era (1920-1940)
Contrary to Edwardian jewelry’s lace subtlety, jewelry in the Art Deco era screamed bold geometry and repetitive patterns. Instead of the filigree metalwork, milgrain metalwork reigned supreme. This type of metalwork features repeating, sharp angles with minute beads.
Colored gemstones, such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, were also popular, and step-cut diamonds became especially fashionable. However, because of the Great Depression, many consumers weren’t able to afford expensive gemstones. Hence, they opted for more cost-friendly alternatives, such as garnet, citrine, amethyst, and glass.
Retro Era (1940-1960)
The 4th and last era on this list is the Retro era. Before the emergence of the Second World War, there were few engagement rings with a center diamond. However, engagement rings started to exclusively feature diamonds in the 1940s—after the highly successful De Beers diamond marketing campaign.
Unlike the previous three eras, engagement rings in the Retro era often featured simpler designs. Baguette side stones and solitaire rings were the trendy ones. And after the end of the Great Depression, the typical center stone size engagement rings flourished once again.
Moreover, non-military use of platinum during WWII was highly prohibited—the metals of choice in the United States were yellow and rose gold. Many rings were also two-toned with a mix of yellow and white gold.
Where to Buy Vintage Engagement Rings
It’s vital to choose the right jewelry shop to avoid fraud and black markets. Hence, always ensure that you research thoroughly and source out highly reputable vendors.
Don’t be easily deceived by dealers claiming to be selling authentic vintage jewelry. If you encounter unpopular sellers or newbies in the market, try authenticating their jewelry in an established jewelry shop. However, it’s always best to purchase from well-known and reliable shops.
How to Purchase a Vintage Engagement Ring
Looking for the best diamond engagement ring can be overwhelming, but sourcing out vintage engagement rings is a different experience. To help you decide on your purchase, consider these questions:
Is this engagement ring purely vintage or just vintage style?
Knowing what you’re looking for is essential and must come first on your list. To the average and untrained eye, the two ring types may look the same. However, vintage engagement rings genuinely come from a previous era, while a vintage style is a modern one inspired by vintage details and designs.
The bottom line is to be extra cautious. Just because an engagement ring is expensive and listed as vintage doesn’t necessarily mean it’s authentically vintage. Make sure that you know what you want and where to find it.
From what period does the ring come from?
Given that you want an authentic vintage ring, you must know which period it comes from. As previously mentioned, every era has distinct styles and designs.
Determining the jewelry’s era would help you identify the kind of metal that constitutes it. Is the piece made out of platinum? Or is it made out of rose gold like the one in this Fink’s review? Aside from the material used, it would also help you decide on the ring design.
What are the stone’s size and quality?
Since the technology for determining the grades of diamonds didn’t exist back then, a vast majority of diamonds that you see in vintage engagement rings aren’t evaluated through the 4Cs—color, cut, clarity, and carat. Thus, we recommend that you focus wholly on the ring instead.
Ask about the diamond’s carat weight. Check out the quality and size, and determine whether it’s what you want. Also, check whether the stone has any noticeable flaws.
How durable is the ring?
Some rings are fragile, while others are sturdy. Some pieces also have minor cracks and chips either on the ring itself or in the stones. Hence, it’s important to assess the durability and current situation of the ring because you wouldn’t want to spend thousands on something fragile or broken.
One essential thing to consider is your lifestyle. If you often use your hands for work and never take off your ring, you probably shouldn’t get a vintage ring covered in delicate filigree. However, if your hands aren’t that busy, a delicate ring might do right.
What is the diamond’s cut style?
Not all vendors can tell you about the vintage ring’s history. However, they can tell you the ring’s era based on the diamond’s cut style. Here are three distinct diamond cuts of several engagement rings:
European Cut Diamonds
This kind of cut evolved from mine cut diamonds. European cuts show a tiny table with a heavy crown and great depth. European diamonds are also highly similar to modern round diamonds because of their beautiful sparkle.
Mine Cut Diamonds
During the pre-electronic age, diamonds were mined under antique lights in the places they were discovered. And they were often called “candlelight diamonds” because they mostly reveal their best face by candlelight. Mine cut diamonds were also popular for their soft and romantic glow.
Modern Ideal Cut Diamonds
The term “ideal cut” was coined in 1919 to describe a round diamond with specific proportions. This type of cut is widely used today and is the most popular diamond shape. Its cut is crafted to maintain an equilibrium between brilliance and dispersion of light.
Is the ring resizable?
It’s always a good idea to get a resizable ring. Over time, some women gain or lose weight. Hence, the ring’s size today might not fit tomorrow.
Before falling head over heels on a ring, make sure that it’s your size or partner’s size to avoid wasting time and money. If you couldn’t get a hold of the actual size, consider getting a resizable ring that the wearer could adjust to their liking.
How Much Do Vintage Rings Cost?
You may wonder, “are vintage rings more expensive?” One of our primary considerations when buying a ring is the price—unless you’re a shopper who doesn’t usually look at price tags.
A vintage ring’s price often varies depending on its seller. However, the typical price ranges from $900 to $20,000 depending on the kind of stone. If it’s a diamond, the 4Cs will highly affect its price.
So if you’re asking, “are vintage engagement rings cheaper,” it’s safe to say that antique and vintage engagement rings aren’t cheaper. However, for vintage style engagement rings, you can find them in every price range. Remember that many factors affect a ring’s pricing, such as the setting, center stone, and side stones.
Pros and Cons of a Vintage Ring
To help you decide and weigh things more, we’ve organized the various pros and cons of vintage engagement rings.
- With a vintage ring comes a rich and significant history. You might not always know the jewelry’s antiquity, but you possess a significant and precious piece entangled with memories from its previous owners.
- You may bargain the ring’s price depending on where you got it. Some people would allow a good deal thinking that the rings are secondhand, while others won’t because they believe that vintage and antique rings are rare. However, it’s easier to bargain with vintage rings than modern diamond rings.
- Professional craftsmen and artisans carefully crafted vintage engagement rings. Hence, these pieces are unique in design and harder to replicate than machine-made jewelry.
- Many couples are socially conscious and don’t want to own jewelry pieces that are possibly associated with social issues. Fortunately, most vintage engagement rings, particularly those crafted before the early 1990s, don’t have conflict stones. They played zero roles in financing civil wars, human rights abuses, and terrorist actions.
- Vintage engagement rings are eco-friendly since they don’t require additional mining, processing, and shipping that contribute to environmental devastation. Hence, you don’t have to feel guilty when getting one.
- Older stones are often duller than newer ones because they were cut with lesser brilliant facets. However, there’s nothing a good cleaning couldn’t brighten.
- Vintage rings may have withstood the test of time, but they differ in durability. Some pieces may be perfectly fine until today, but many of them need minor repairs.
- Since vintage rings are naturally one-of-a-kind, it may be difficult to look for wedding bands that match them.
- Maintaining a vintage ring requires diligent and delicate hands, given its exquisite details. Hand-cleaning them would take a lot of time, but it often yields the best results.
Is a Vintage Engagement Ring Right for You?
Owning an engagement ring with a significant history carries a romantic and enchanting feeling to the wearer. However, sourcing for an authentic one requires hard work—let alone maintaining it! Let this article help you out and be your guide throughout your quest for the best vintage engagement rings. Whatever you need to kickstart your search, they’re all here!
If you want to get more pro tips and ideas about engagement rings, read our article, “Ultimate Shopping Guide for Engagement Rings: What You and Your Partner Need to Know.”