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Five Reasons Why You Should Purchase an Antique or Vintage Engagement Ring

If you are thinking about popping the question to your partner, you may be thinking to yourself “what style of ring should I buy?”. Not only will you want to purchase a ring that cherishes both you and your partner-to-be’s relationship, but you will also want to honour their personal style, and, most importantly not go over budget. 

A vintage or antique engagement ring is, in our opinion, the perfect choice. Of course, we are biased, but for good reason! Not only can you get high-quality gemstones and intricate styles at a more affordable price, but you are also choosing a more sustainable option, and with the increase of eco-friendly living, this is something that your partner will certainly appreciate. 

1) Wealth of Authentic and Unusual Styles 

One of the best reasons why you should choose an antique or vintage engagement ring is because of the amount of authentic and esoteric styles. No matter if you choose Victorian, Edwardian, Belle Epoque or Art Deco, each period, century and decade promises something different and unique. 

Georgian engagement rings - If you are looking for an engagement ring that isn’t for everyday wear, and you also aren’t concerned about the price tag, then why not treat your partner to a Georgian engagement ring? The quintessential Diamond engagement ring wasn't the norm until the 1950s, yet Georgian Diamond rings are often found in table and rose cuts with foiled centres that come alive within a candlelit room. These designs add to their irresistible allure and distinctive character. You can also find beautiful engraved ring shanks with Georgian rings. 


Collection of late Georgian early 19th century rings, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum 

Victorian engagement rings - Victorian Diamond rings were often five stone rings or gypsy style rings, with the solitaire Diamond ring being “invented” in 1886. You can find a wealth of styles that are robust and of good quality, often set within yellow Gold or rose Gold. Victorian engagement rings have that ornate flair, with scrolled galleries, rose cuts and old mine cuts. 

Victorian Rose Cut Diamond Ring, Source - Lang Antiques

Edwardian and Belle Epoque engagement rings - During the Edwardian period, Platinum jewellery became in vogue! Platinum was an incredibly strong metal, and fitted in with the pale Edwardian aesthetic of Pearls, Diamonds and Sapphires. Plus many Edwardian engagement rings have floral, millegraine and openwork settings, offering a romantic look. 

Edwardian 18ct Gold Sapphire Diamond Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Art Deco engagement rings - Dramatic, flashy and glamorous, you can see why Art Deco engagement rings are popular amongst the millennial generation. These rings were set within Platinum and Gold, with Diamonds, Sapphires, Emeralds and Rubies fancifully displayed in decadent designs. Many of these pieces were both lavish and architectural, with striking streamlined elements and geometric patterns. This was also when the old European cut was preferred. 

Art Deco 1 Carat Diamond Onyx Ring, Source - 1stdibs

You can find out more about types of antique Diamonds in our Lillicoco University Diamond guide!

Wartime rings - If your bride-to-be doesn’t love the flashiness of Art Deco, then why not consider a post-Edwardian or 1930s and 1940s engagement ring. Not only are these styles of rings more affordable, but they are more subdued in style, with smaller gemstones and two-tone metals.  

1940's Wedding Ring Set, Source - Pinterest

Mid-century vintage engagement rings - After wartime restrictions were lifted, many jewellers were obsessed with once again recreating glamorous and over the top jewellery, and mid-century (1950s-60s) engagement rings reflected this. This was also influenced by the De Beers “Diamonds are Forever” campaign, one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. After the war, the sophisticated machinery and techniques were turned towards product design. So elaborate, over the top and unique pieces, could easily be made. Diamonds were sourced in Baguette, Emerald, Princess and Round Brilliant cuts and were once again encased within Platinum. 

Mid Century Platinum Diamond Engagement Ring, Source - 1stdibs

2) A Romantic Way to Start A New Chapter 

In comparison to contemporary jewellery, antique and vintage jewellery will always have the upper hand in having its own personal story to tell. Whether its unique French or Austro-Hungarian hallmarks or it's dated to a certain time and place, each ring will have its own provenance. A provenance that you can bring with you into your new life together. 

Especially in period fine antique jewellery, you can just imagine the places they have been to and the people who would have once worn the rings. 

These rings can easily become heirloom pieces for you to pass onto your children and grandchildren, making it a treasure you can keep forever. 

Plus, you can easily change these rings to fit within your modern lifestyle. Whether it's getting the stones reset or getting replacement stones, you can easily alter these rings to fit your personal style with a reputable jeweller. 

Not to mention, many of these antique rings have their own symbols that are inherently romantic, as our ancestors did have a penchant for symbolism! For example, orange blossom engravings were commonplace on wedding bands as they were symbolic of fertility, and many love charms had ivy leaf, forget me not and acanthus engravings too. 

These little details and historic provenance could be seen as a good luck omen for your new life together. 

3) You Can Get Natural Gems

Today in the contemporary jewellery world, many gemstones are lab-grown and treated. Whilst this doesn’t bother a large number of people, and also are an environmentally friendly way to source gems, some people just prefer natural gemstones, and with antique rings, you are more likely to get natural gems! 

For instance, many modern gems are fractured filled, oiled, waxed, heated, dyed and coated in order to achieve desirable clarity and colour. In some cases, this can make the gemstones brittle which means they are more prone to abrasions. This is one of the many reasons why natural gemstones are preferred!

Synthetic gemstones were first created in the 19th century, but they only sophisticated to mass production from 1902 onwards, and even though gemstone treatments were a 1000-year-old practise, it was first published for common knowledge in 1913. With this in mind, it is likely that the older the ring, such as Victorian or Georgian, it is more likely that you will receive a natural gem.

Synthetic vs Natural Gemstones, Source - Diamond Buzz

Of course, natural gems may have inclusions and may not be as “brilliant”. Plus, those that are inclusion-free and have amazing clarity will fetch a higher price tag. However, at least you can boast about it to all of your friends!

4) A Sustainable and Trend-Driven Choice

Sustainable shopping is the future, and buying an antique and vintage engagement ring promises this! Sustainability is on the lips of everyone who is sartorially inclined, and it is no secret that everyone needs to do their bit to help the planet. Simply put, buying vintage and antique jewellery reduces the demand for virgin materials, as well as discouraging irresponsible and dangerous mining and labour practises. 

As illustrated in our sustainable jewellery blog, the mining and “dirty Gold’ industry is vast, leaking harmful chemicals like mercury, cyanide and lead into water and soil. Plus the processing and manufacturing of these materials generates harmful CO2 emissions. Once you see how destructive the current jewellery industry is, it's hard to look the other way. Vintage and antique engagement rings cut this out completely, as it has already been done once! 

Illustration of Gold mining operations in California, c.1860, Harper's Magazine, Source - Wikimedia Commons

So, you can get a piece that is entirely personal to you and one that is a more sustainable purchase. 

Not to mention, sustainability is seriously trendy right now! Many celebrities have antique and vintage engagement rings including Jessica Biel, Penelope Cruz, Christina Aguilera, Mary Kate Olsen, Kate Middleton, FKA Twigs, Pippa Middleton, and Kate Moss.

The increase and desire for sustainable practise and shopping options are snowballing, with many millennial's and Gen-Z adopting a green lens when browsing. An altruistic trend, sustainability is here to stay. And, if your partner-to-be has an eco-conscious mindset, this will garner impressive brownie points.  

5) A More Affordable Choice!

Many vintage and antique engagement rings are actually much more affordable than new engagement rings. This is because you avoid having to pay for a designer and the sourcing of new materials. So, with this in mind, you could get a larger carat of Diamond or higher purity of Gold for less. 

Of course, for more esoteric styles, rare cult brands like Tiffany, Boucheron and Cartier and an exceptional quality of gemstone, antique engagement rings can fetch a high price tag that exceeds new rings. So, the best way to find the right price for you is work out your budget and decide on a style that you think your partner to be will love. 

Choosing an antique or vintage engagement ring is no easy task, which is why we endeavour to help our customers as much as we can when finding the perfect ring for them. 

In fact, we have curated a few of our pieces that we think would be fabulous for the alternative bride-to-be!

Antique 18ct Gold Diamond Snake Ring 

We have chosen this ring not because she encapsulates a unique aesthetic, but also because the Queen Victoria herself had a serpent ring as an engagement ring from Prince Albert. In the Victorian era, serpents symbolised eternity and life-long commitment, therefore the perfect romantic symbol!

Victorian 18ct Gold Diamond Buckle Ring

Like the snake ring, buckle rings were a quintessentially romantic Victorian ring to give to a partner during courtship. Buckles were symbolic of a strong commitment and bond, and a rare motif to find in contemporary jewellery. This Diamond buckle ring blends the modern tradition of the forever Diamond with a Victorian style. 

French 18ct Gold Toi et Moi Ring

Why have one large Diamond when you can have two? This stunning French 18ct Gold Toi et Moi ring epitomises the ethereal beauty of the Belle Epoque. This style of ring became popular in the early 20th century, with the “Toi et Moi” translating to “me and you”. Typically, this style of ring are more whimsical in shape with sinuous curves and the gemstones curling around one another. Yet, this ring is different in that she is striking, with the two Diamonds diametrically opposed, symbolising balance and harmony. 

Art Deco Diamond Cluster Ring

Art Deco engagement rings are one of the most popular eras to shop from. Whether its the romantic and inherently glamorous connotations that we have of this era, or the sophistication in jewellery making techniques, Art Deco jewellery is incredibly collectable and sought after. This ring has stolen our hearts and affections, truly one of the most eye-catching rings we have ever seen. 

Other than these styles, there are so many intricacies to look out for when searching for an antique or vintage ring. 

We offer appointment only engagement ring services in Bristol, so we can easily find you the perfect match. 

If you liked reading this blog post, why not check out these similar ones below!

Our Style Guide to The Perfect Vintage Antique Wedding Look

The Ultimate Guide to Antique Chains

Valentines Jewellery Gifts of the Past

Molly Chatterton

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