For modern brides, engagement ring trends run the gamut from sleek solitaires to dazzling two-stone rings to unique cuts and settings, such as hexagon shapes and double bands. Alternatively, vintage engagement ring styles are extremely popular among modern brides, from colored stones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires (we see you Kate Middleton) to raw, rustic, and rough-cut diamond rings. With so many trends to choose from, the most consistent theme is uniqueness, and to achieve such a look, the increasingly popular choice is a vintage or antique engagement ring.
Decidedly romantic, old-world rings are appealing for their distinctive character, but they are also a sustainable way to shop for an engagement ring. An antique ring means you’re shopping for a piece of jewelry that is already in existence rather than sourcing a brand-new stone that would require new mining, new materials, and additional labor. While the feel-good factor is certainly a draw, the one-of-a-kind charm that comes with a vintage engagement ring truly can’t be beaten for certain brides. But even if you know an antique ring style is for you, deciding on the exact era, cut, and design can be a challenge.
That’s where the antique experts at 1st Dibs come into play. The website—which is a mecca for fine jewelry, vintage fashion, and antique art and furniture—works with the world's best dealers, finest shops, and most important galleries to curate an exceptional edit of treasures, including vintage engagement rings from the early 19th century, Victorian, Edwardian, art deco, and mid-century modern periods.
“Many modern brides want a unique engagement ring, a design with special details,” says Anthony Barzilay Freund, the editorial director and director of fine art at 1st Dibs. “Vintage rings are a wonderful way to find something different. Regardless of their style, these rings have handcrafted elements that you won’t readily find in contemporary work. Some brides prefer vintage engagement rings because they like the quality of light found in hand-cut antique gems. It’s more of an elegant glow rather than bright bling.
If you’re in the market for a vintage engagement ring but don’t quite know where to start, Freund explains the five most popular vintage engagement rings trends for modern brides below.
Art Deco Emerald Rings
“Emeralds are one of the most popular stones today. Brides are even choosing vintage emerald designs for their engagement ring because there are not a lot of contemporary emerald styles on the market. Gemologists and jewelry experts generally advise against choosing an emerald for an engagement ring because they are a much softer gemstone than a diamond and can get damaged with daily wear. Yet, there is a historical precedent for wearing them. Jackie Kennedy had an emerald in her engagement ring and so did the Duchess of Windsor.”
2.70 Carat Emerald Diamond Art Deco Style Platinum Engagement Ring
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19th-Century Russian Rings
“Sapphire and diamond cluster rings have steadily been a popular choice for modern brides since Kate Middleton began wearing Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond cluster ring in 2010. The style was brought back into headline news when Princess Eugenie received a Padparadscha sapphire and diamond cluster ring from Jack Brooksbank. Lady Gaga also had an amazing pink sapphire and diamond cluster ring during her brief engagement to Christian Carino. Katy Perry was also given a ruby and diamond cluster engagement ring from Orlando Bloom. With all the celebrities and royals wearing the look, it might seem like a newish style. In fact, it dates back centuries, and there are lots of stunning vintage options available."
Antique No Heat Ceylon Sapphire Diamond Gold Ring
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Mid-Century Aquamarine Rings
“After Meghan Markle flashed Princess Diana’s aquamarine and diamond ring when she sped off with Prince Harry to their wedding reception, the style surged in popularity. The jewel was obviously not her engagement ring, but the fact that she wore it on her wedding day has clearly inspired women to think of an aquamarine ring as an alternative to a diamond engagement ring."
Platinum Art Deco Style 5.00 Carat Aquamarine and Diamond Ring
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1920s French Rings
“The classic solitaire engagement style with a prong-set center stone has been a mainstay in engagement rings since the 1880s. Differences between modern and vintage looks are generally found in the little design flourishes decorating the band and the quality of the center stone. Older diamond rings are generally set with antique hand-cut diamonds that are chunkier than sleek modern diamond shapes.”
2.11 Carat Old Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring, Circa 1920s
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $20,507.58
Edwardian Cluster Rings
“The cost of most engagement rings is in the price of the central gem. Choosing a vintage ring with a design motif rather than a solitaire is a great way to get a unique jewel and save on the price. Smaller stones, even when they are beautifully cut to fit the design, do not add up to the same sum.”
Edwardian Cluster Ring Set With Crescent Sapphires in a Platinum on Gold Mount
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $5,300