Antique engagement rings are a unique and beautiful alternative to a new ring. The tradition of giving separate rings for the engagement and the marriage started in Victorian England. The first DeBeers diamond minds in the late 1800s helped increase the popularity of engagement rings.
The earliest diamonds were not nearly as brilliant as todays rings. The first mine cut diamonds were not very clear. This improved in the early 20th century with the European cut diamonds. These are often found in rings from the Art Deco period. Diamond cutting continued to improve and evolve into the brilliant cut that is still used today.
Larger stones are found in Victorian rings. While these diamonds dont have the clarity of newer rings, the stone is generally larger. Rings became smaller throughout the early 1900s and into the Great Depression. Overall, the quality of the diamond affects the price. Clarity isnt as important in antique rings as it is in new ones. The value depends more on the demand for specific rings.
The most popular vintage rings are from the Victorian Era through the 1940s. Distinct styles, settings and stones can be seen in rings from each period. Victorian rings are generally yellow or rose colored gold. The stone can be a diamond, but pearls were just as common in this time period. Edwardian rings have a filigree design in the rings. Some may have Jewish or Christian designs in the filigree.
Art Deco rings of the 1920s are generally platinum, white gold or silver. Bezel settings are common in these rings. The setting makes the smaller diamond appear larger. Rings became smaller and less ornate in the 1930s and 1940s. Platinum became less common during the war years and yellow or white gold was commonly used in rings. Carvings on the shank and settings helped make the center stone appear larger.
Where to Find Antique Engagement Rings
There are several good places to find antique rings. Antique stores often carry jewelry. Some dealers are more knowledgeable than others about the details and value of rings from each period. In some cases, you ca get a really good deal. Some stores under sell jewelry because they dont know its true value. The ring may not come with a certificate. If not, have it independently appraised for insurance.
Jewelers sometimes carry vintage pieces. A good jeweler will be knowledgeable about the value of the ring. You may not get as good a deal, but will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a quality ring. You will be given a certificate for the diamond when you buy from a jeweler.
Estate sales are a good place to find antique wedding jewelry. You can usually arrange to view the items the day before the estate sale. Read about the value and characteristics of antique rings to help determine the value of the ring. Inspect the ring carefully before the sale to decide how high you will bid. You can find information in books at the library or on the internet.
Caring for Antique Engagement Rings
Antique diamond jewelry will retain its beauty for years, if you care for it properly. Before you purchase the ring, have the jeweler inspect the prongs carefully to be sure the stone wont come loose. You dont want to lose your diamond. Take the ring to the jeweler for professional cleaning and inspection once or twice a year.