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Our Ultimate Guide To Vintage and Antique Engagement Rings
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Our Ultimate Guide To Vintage and Antique Engagement Rings

Our Ultimate Guide To Vintage and Antique Engagement Rings

For vintage and antique ring aficionados, there is nothing quite like the majesty, elegant demeanour and excellence of antique and vintage engagement rings. Whether it's the scintillation of an Old Cut Diamond, or the carefully considered scrolled ring gallery, it’s easy to fall head over heels for this quintessentially romantic genre of jewels!

As we have been in the jewellery business for quite some time, we always get asked how to find the ideal vintage or antique engagement ring for you and your partner. From what kind of styles to look out for to is it a sensible choice to purchase an already worn and loved engagement ring - we have answered it all. So, it only seems fair to create the ULTIMATE guide, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

Should you buy a second hand engagement ring?

Let’s address the elephant in the room, is a vintage engagement ring a good idea? There always is some form of hesitation around purchasing second hand jewellery. For instance, is it more likely to break, can it be worn everyday, is it expensive to fix and so on! Of course, like any fine piece of jewellery, making sure that you look after it properly is vital to its longevity, no matter whether it is brand new, second hand, vintage or antique! 

If you have seen a second hand engagement ring that you love, but of course are hesitant, please do not feel afraid to ask questions. Here are some engagement ring questions that we recommend asking:

  1. What is the overall condition of the item?
  2. Can you see the ring in person?
  3. Has the ring been previously resized?
  4. Are all the stones set securely?
  5. Do the stones have any cracks, abrasions or previous treatments?
  6. Can I wear this ring everyday?

If you are buying from a reputable retailer, then they are more than happy to answer these questions for you. However, if you are buying from an online marketplace, a personal collection or just someone trying to flog their old jewellery, then they may not know the answers. If this is the case, we suggest being friendly and asking them to take the piece to a local jeweller who can attest for its value and condition. 

Of course, if you have questions about what gemstones are suitable for engagement rings, or you want to know about what previous gemstone treatments could have occurred. We have written a few more guides which can help illustrate this for you more quickly. 

What are the best gemstones for engagement rings?

An engagement ring is a symbolic representation of your daily commitment to one another, which is why many choose to wear their engagement ring everyday. With that in mind, you need to make sure you are investing in a piece that lasts. So, you need to make sure that the ring is made out of solid precious metals. Such as is the ring made from solid Gold or Platinum? Or, is the ring inlaid with typically hard gemstones like Diamonds, Emeralds, Sapphires, Rubies, Tanzanite, Aquamarine and Morganite?

For an antique and vintage engagement ring, we highly recommend that you choose the hard gemstones above as these are well suited for daily wear. We always get asked, can I have an Opal engagement ring? Or can I have a Moonstone engagement ring? Not only are these gemstones much softer (so more prone to chips and scratches), but they also have their own specific chemical makeup that makes them not suited to everyday wear. For instance, Opal is a porous gemstone, meaning that it is far more prone to cracks if exposed to arid hot climates. 

Of course, some antique and vintage rings often have a combination of gemstones, like a Diamond Turquoise cluster ring or a Pearl Diamond ring. So, could these be suitable engagement rings? With obsessive levels of proper care and management, these rings can be preserved, but do you want to take on that commitment? Or just invest in a beautiful Pearl ring that you can wear occasionally, rather than everyday. 

What are the different types of engagement rings?

So what exactly are the  vintage and antique engagement ring styles? Our five reasons why you should buy an antique engagement ring details a few of the alternative engagement ring styles out there including a chunky snake or buckle ring! (as these were symbolic of commitment and eternity in the Victorian period), but what other kind of styles are there?

Much like modern and contemporary engagement rings, antique and vintage rings had their own versions of cluster gemstone rings, solitaire rings or flush setting rings. This really does depend on what you gravitate towards or your personal style is. For instance, this absolutely gorgeous Victorian Yellow Old Mine Cut Diamond ring is perhaps the Victorian iteration of a solitaire ring (although technically solitaire rings were not officially “invented” until the late 19th and early 20th century). 

Victorian Engagement Rings

Victorian engagement rings exude a sense of power and romance that is entirely of their own making. Often inlaid with the most delightful of Old Cut Diamonds and other gems, Victorian rings are full of personality and are a wonderful choice if you want an antique engagement ring that is truly one of a kind!

As we have collected a plethora of Victorian rings in our time, it is safe to say that we have seen it all, a testament to how varied they can be! 

Here are a few of our most recent Victorian engagement rings, just so you can see how different they all are!

Antique 18ct Gold Yellow Old Mine Cut Diamond Solitaire, Source - Lillicoco

Antique Sapphire Diamond Cluster Engagement Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Victorian Diamond Navette 15ct Gold Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Edwardian Engagement Rings

The Edwardian period was short and sweet (1901-1909), but they birthed some of the most gorgeous jewels. On the back of the industrial revolution, Edwardian jewellery was all about elegance, intricate details and pale tones, utilising the variety of new inventions, materials and mechanical advancements to create refined state of the art jewellery. 

Edwardian engagement rings are often very feminine, very sparkly and had pale gemstones like Pearls, Diamonds and Aquamarines, all set within intricate curled or buttercup galleries, fanciful floral clusters and high profile settings. 

If you want to see it for yourself, here are some of our Edwardian engagement rings!

Edwardian Sapphire Diamond Cluster Engagement Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Edwardian 18ct Gold Diamond Cluster Engagement Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Antique Platinum Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Art Deco Engagement Rings 

The Art Deco era (1920-1939) is one of the most recognisable, well-known and romanticised eras in the last 100 years. Many people assume that the Art Deco period is only the 1920s, however the 1930s was also rife for Art Deco design. That being said, there was a distinct shift in the style between the 1920s and 1930s after the Wall Street Crash. 1930s rings were simpler and understated in design, especially in comparison to the bold and architectural designs of the former decade. 

The colours were monochrome and contrasting, with slabs of Black Onyx, Lapis Lazuli and Coral studded with Diamonds, Emeralds and Rubies. The jewellers played with different dimensions, prioritising clean lines but not afraid to create a high profile architectural masterpiece. 

Art Deco engagement rings are the most popular style of vintage and antique engagement ring - the type of ring we get asked the most! So, why not feast on your eyes on these delectable deco rings below!

18ct Gold Diamond Solitaire Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Art Deco Diamond Pink Ruby Square Engagement Ring, Source - Lillicoco

Should I buy a Georgian engagement ring?

We also often get asked about how wearable antique engagement rings are - if they have already survived over 100 years, can we be sure they will last for a century more? Especially if you are planning on wearing the piece everyday. This is completely at your discretion, but we wouldn’t sell rings that weren’t in wearable condition, and we always fully disclose beforehand any signs of resizing, resetting and general age-related wear to both the metal and the gems. 

It is very rare for us to stock jewellery that is older than the Georgian period, and we wouldn’t recommend investing in a piece that is over 200-300 years old for an engagement ring. However, with the proper love and care some Georgian rings can be chosen for engagement rings. Georgian Diamonds are in another world of their own, so we don’t blame you for falling in love with a Georgian piece.

Georgian 18ct Gold Diamond Trilogy Ring (0.66ct) Source - Lillicoco

Just like choosing the right gemstone, it is really important to chat to the seller if you are considering a Georgian ring. Are there evidence of previous resizing, are all the gemstones secure, what is the width of the ring band (thicker and weighter ring bands will have more durability than thinner bands!) and do they recommend wearing this ring for everyday? 

That being said, if you do choose a Georgian engagement ring - we do think that you should opt for not wearing it everyday just because it will last for longer. 

Where to buy antique engagement rings

This may appear to be a shameless plug, but we have a fabulous array of antique and vintage engagement rings from the early 19th century through to the 1990s. All of our engagement rings are thoroughly assessed by a gemologist and a well-trained team of jewellers before making it to our website.

If you are looking for antique engagement rings in London, then our beautiful office is only a quick and easy train ride away. No distance is too far to scope out the perfect engagement ring for your beloved, and we are more than happy to discuss flexible payment plans, resizing and alterations to suit your needs. 

On the other hand, if you have an idea of what you are looking for, then please do speak to us. We are always in contact with the leading traders in the antique jewellery world, so we may be able to find “the one” quicker than you would think! 

Nevertheless, antique and vintage engagement rings are a seriously good and worthy investment. Not only are they a sustainable engagement ring, but they already have an entire one-of-a-kind story behind them. 

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