What is a Vintage Engagement Ring? | The Diamond Reserve

What is a Vintage Engagement Ring?

A vintage engagement ring is typically one that’s more than 50 years old. Antique is often used interchangeably with vintage to describe older rings, but typically refers to a ring older than 100 years. Modern rings can also be crafted to look like different styles of vintage and antique rings.

What is Considered a Vintage Engagement Ring?

True vintage and antique rings were made before the invention of modern machines that can create precise designs and rings that are easily replicated and mass produced. These “vintage” rings were designed and created by craftsmen and artisans giving each ring individual attention and often resulting in intricate and unique designs that can be hard to find in modern jewelry. 

Although the terms “vintage” and “antique” are often used interchangeably, vintage usually describes something 40-50 years old, which now means jewelry created in the 1970s. Antique jewelry is of considerable age and generally at least 100 years old. Both antique and vintage rings will have changed hands many times, and are also called estate jewelry, which simply means pre-owned or second hand; an estate ring could’ve been bought as recently as last year and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s vintage or antique. 

“Vintage” can also signify the style of the ring, rather than its age. A vintage inspired engagement ring is a modern ring crafted in a design that gives it a vintage appearance. The design can be inspired by certain historical periods or combine styles from multiple eras. Technically a reproduction, this style of ring isn’t old, it’s newly created with vintage stylistic elements. 

Vintage Engagement Ring Eras and Styles 

While styles didn’t abruptly change overnight, and there was a lot of overlapping, there are periods of time with distinct styles in jewelry from the size, shape, type and cut of the stones to the metal and detailing. 

  • Victorian Style (approximately 1837-1901) is named for Queen Victoria of England, who ruled the British Empire. Her exceptional taste influenced jewelry made during that time. Due to the increase in gold and the discovery of diamonds in South Africa, many rings of this era are set in yellow gold with diamonds and finished with ornate filigree and engraving including bows, hearts, birds and snakes. Rows, halos and clusters of diamonds were popular during this era.
  • Edwardian Style (approximately 1901-1920) named for King Edward of Britain, ring styles kept much of the late Victorian inspiration, but with the discovery of the oxyacetylene torch, platinum became the metal of choice, allowing for more intricate filigree work. Designs featuring scrolls, ribbons, vines, bows and floral motifs were popular.
  • Art Deco Style (approximately 1920-1935) an era of flappers, jazz, gangsters and speakeasies, in contrast to lacy Edwardian styles, Art Deco was all about bold geometry and straight lines. Instead of curvy, flowing filigree, these rings often included metalwork with repeating, sharp angles and tiny beads called milgrain. 
  • Retro Style (approximately 1940-1960) prior to World War II, few engagement rings featured a center diamond, but after the De Beers diamond marketing campaign in the 1940s, engagement rings almost exclusively featured diamonds. Because platinum was necessary for the war efforts, jewelers turned to yellow, white, and rose gold to fashion engagement rings. Unlike earlier styles, rings from this era featured simple designs. 

When purchasing an authentic vintage or antique engagement ring, it’s important to shop in reputable places, ask for certification and paperwork if available, and talk to a trusted jeweler. Whether you’re inspired by a single era or want to incorporate a combination of vintage elements into a modern design, The Diamond Reserve can help create a custom vintage style engagement ring. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment!