It's easy to see the appeal of a vintage engagement ring. With this nostalgic piece of jewelry comes an innate sense of history and a strong feeling of romance. If you and your partner have decided to go the vintage route, there's a handful of details and terminology you'll want to know about before diving in.
It’s helpful to think of vintage engagement rings in a few key periods of time: Georgian (1714-1830), Victorian (1837-1901), Edwardian (1890s-1915), Art Nouveau (1890s-early 1910s), and Art Deco (1920s-1930s). If you're interested in a vintage engagement ring, it's worth your time to dive into each of these eras to discover what you do (and don't) like.
Georgian jewelry is considered rare and can be difficult to find. Among its more notable characteristics is the ornate metal detailing and motifs like flowers and foliage. Victorian jewelry, named after Queen Victoria and her 64-year reign, speaks to an era of romantic design motifs including hands and hearts. Hallmarks of Edwardian jewelry (also referred to as La Belle Epoque) include intricate details as well as the use of platinum. Art Nouveau can be characterized by its use of whiplash lines and asymmetry. Lastly, Art Deco engagement rings can be identified by their geometric patterns and use of diamonds and contrasting gemstones.
Ready to say "yes" to a vintage engagement ring? Continue ahead for 8 nostalgic options from jewelers specializing in the vintage and antique categories.
Kinn Vintage Marquise Sapphire Ring
Eschew the traditional diamond center stone and go for a sapphire cut in a unique marquise silhouette. Combined with tiny diamonds and a gold band, it makes for the perfect vintage moment.
Doyle & Doyle Vintage Engagement Ring Old Mine 1.45ct
You’ll fall in love with this Old Mine-cut diamond flanked by six single-cut diamonds. The platinum band lends a sleek finish.
Erica Weiner Georgian Old Mine Cut Diamond Crowned Heart Ring
This Georgian-era ring screams romance with its heart motif and diamonds set in closed silver settings backed in foil.
Fred Leighton Antique Yellow Gold Sapphire and Diamond Double Snake Ring
This double-headed snake motif ring dates back to 1913 and is ideal for the fashionable, non-traditional bride. It’s designed with an Old Mine diamond and cushion sapphire.
Fred Leighton Antique Old Mine Diamond Five Stone Ring
With five impressive stones, this 1890s-era ring is opulence in a nutshell. Enjoy the 18K yellow gold band that contrasts the Old Mine-cut diamonds beautifully.
Trumpet & Horn Halford
Though only a couple of decades old, this ruby ring screams old world charm. The center stone is encompassed by a halo of 14 brilliant-cut diamonds and finished with a high polish platinum shank.
Lang Collection 3.50 Carat Fancy Brown Diamond Engagement Ring
Go for glitz with this 3.5ct oval diamond featuring a light golden brown hue. If you needed convincing that fancy colors are a beautiful option, look no further.
Beladora Antique Edwardian Diamond Ring in 18K White Gold
This Edwardian ring features transitional-cut diamonds and two stepped shoulders with single-cut diamonds. Translate this 1910-era ring to now by styling it with your favorite jewels.
What to Look for When Choosing a Vintage Engagement Ring
As mentioned before, an easy way to give context to your vintage engagement ring is to identify the time period it was created during and defining characteristics you can expect. For example, if you’re a hopeless romantic, consider a ring from the Victorian era because jewelry from that time often came with sentimental motifs incorporated into the piece.
Wear and Tear
Because you’re buying a vintage engagement ring, the likelihood that a piece might show signs of damage is not uncommon. While some wear and tear can give the ring character, make sure that there are no fundamental issues that should be addressed by the jeweler, such as loose prongs.
Because a vintage engagement ring comes in just one size, if you choose to get it resized many retailers will not accept returns. Always check with your jeweler to ensure a ring can be returned if necessary.
What’s the difference between vintage, estate, and antique?
Antique implies the piece of jewelry is at least over 100 years old, whereas vintage is something that isn't old enough to be considered antique but doesn't fall under the contemporary umbrella either. As for estate jewelry, this signals that the piece is pre-owned and can be antique, vintage, or even modern.
How much do vintage engagement rings cost?
Naturally, there's a great deal of variety when it comes to vintage engagement rings, which means the price range is equally as expansive. You can expect anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars up into six-figure digits depending on the gemstone, cut, setting, band, and so forth. In other words—you've got options.
Do vintage rings require more maintenance?
Unsurprisingly, an older engagement ring is likely to require a bit more TLC. Design elements can wear with time, so it's important to discuss with your jeweler the best ways to take care of your ring.