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These days a lot of pieces are being passed as vintage-style engagement rings. To the untrained eye, they might seem like the real deal, and there are certainly rings that offer good bling for the money. However, most of them don’t have the properties that constitute a vintage-style piece.
So the question is – how do you discern a real vintage-style ring from a random ring that just looks the part? No worries, this article is here to provide you with all the necessary information to make an educated choice. Plus, you’ll get a list of five engagement rings that would make any bride-to-be happy.
- What is a Vintage-Style Engagement Ring?
- Common Characteristics
- Improper Vintage-Style Rings
- Vintage-Style Engagement Rings Examples
WHAT IS A VINTAGE-STYLE ENGAGEMENT RING?
A Vintage-Style Engagement Ring is a modern-made ring that was handcrafted in the style of a Vintage-Era ring. Additionally, a vintage-style ring will be set with a vintage diamond in the center instead of a modern brilliant-cut diamond.
In other words, the rings came into being more recently as a reproduction of vintage rings. As such, these pieces are available in a variety of styles. And it won’t be hard for you to find the one that matches the preference of your future bride.
If well done, the vintage-style will look almost identical to a genuine vintage ring. But it pays to take a closer look at the exact criteria that make a vintage-style piece.
It’s critical for the ring to be handcrafted, rather than casted. Basically, the piece needs to come to life the same way it would 100 years ago.
If the ring is casted, and there are hundreds of matching or similar rings throughout the market, the quality just won’t be there. Plus, these pieces don’t look like they received the artisan touch associated with a particular era.
Without an antique diamond, you’re missing the vintage characteristic of an engagement ring.
Don’t get this wrong, newly cut diamonds are perfectly fine. However, they may lack the history, charm, and provenance of an antique diamond. This makes them an odd match for a piece that’s supposed to showcase an era.
VINTAGE VS. VINTAGE-STYLE
A rare vintage diamond ring. Circa 1920
Vintage or antique rings that are 100 or more years old aren’t vintage-style pieces. The setting, diamond, and everything else came from a bygone era. So, we’re not talking about style here, but a 100% vintage piece.
Okay, this might sound like stating the obvious. But it’s not uncommon for people to confuse the old vintage pieces with vintage-style ones. Remember, you’re looking for vintage diamonds and style, and everything else should be relatively new.
The inspiration for a vintage-style engagement ring needs to come from the following eras:
- Art Deco
- Art Nouveau
If a later era served as an inspiration, like the 70s or 80s, for example, the style isn’t vintage. Should an earlier period be a starting point for the style, like the Roman period, the piece is actually a historical interpretation.
Here’s an article about the Vintage Jewelry Eras.
COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF A VINTAGE-STYLE ENGAGEMENT RING
Now, you understand the basics of a vintage-style ring, but the devil is in the detail. The following sections cover embellishments and design solutions that are representative of a vintage style. And these are the features you should be able to spot with the naked eye.
Take a close look around the edges of a vintage-style ring that grabbed your attention. The bezel should have tiny beads – this is milgrain.
Not only that, but the beads are also slightly uneven, indicating that the embellishment has received a human touch. And the presence of milgrain really seals the deal, because it’s a tale-tell sign that shows two things.
The ring is 100% handcrafted and it fits a vintage era.
This is an embellishment vintage-style rings just can’t do without. Okay, a piece might have a less pronounced filigree, but it should be there in the first place. And again, this is something that gives the necessary artisanal touch and corresponds to a particular era. But what filigree?
You’re looking for fine threads of metal that are curled or twisted to create an intricate, yet delicate detail. This design is soldered into or onto the piece and can take different shapes.
Usually, you get romantic lacy flourishes, scroll-work, or geometric Art-Deco designs.
For a piece to be a genuine vintage-style ring, the side-stones also need to be vintage. That is, the small diamonds that surround the center stone should match the era, cut, and overall style.
With this in mind, you may stumble upon a handcrafted vintage center stone piece. But if the side-stones don’t pass muster, you’re not getting a true vintage-style ring.
This is the section immediately underneath the center stone. It’s the part of the setting that sits atop your fiance’s finger when she’s wearing the ring.
The under-gallery needs to feature intricate detail, and some pieces have filigree there as well. The level of detail or the type of embellishment in the under-gallery may vary from one era to another.
Nevertheless, you don’t want a piece without a beautiful under-gallery because it often shows that the ring doesn’t match the aesthetics of an era.
TWO OR MULTI-STONE TYPE
Vintage and vintage-style rings rarely come as singles. To explain, most pieces that fit the criteria have two or more vintage diamonds.
The common setting is a single large diamond surrounded by a diamond-encrusted halo. Rings with two or three bigger diamonds also fit the bill. And to remind you, all the stones need to date back to the correct era.
You should know that these pieces have a total carat weight and a center stone carat weight. The former is the combined weight of all the diamonds on a piece. And the latter indicates the weight of the biggest diamond.
Lastly, it’s okay for the halo to feature other gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc. Their color is there to accent the cut, brilliance, and clarity of the center stone.
We’ve already mentioned the halo, but this feature deserves a section of its own.
Within the halo itself, you might find different styles that correlate to a particular era. The number of gemstones, their cut, and positioning may be different. And you can also find pieces that feature square-cut diamonds that break the circular flow of the piece and draw more attention to the center stone.
Example of a sapphire halo ring.
WHY DO A LOT OF RETAILERS SELL IMPROPER VINTAGE-STYLE RINGS?
Right off the bat, it’s safe to assume that this is because some retailers are too eager to capitalize on the vintage-style trend.
Over the past two decades, the demand for these rings has sky-rocketed. It’s because of their timeless appeal, but the price and long-term value also play a major part.
With a genuine vintage-style piece, you’re getting artisanal quality, real vintage diamond, and the aesthetics that can make a ring a family heirloom. However, crafting such a ring takes time, skill, and extensive knowledge of the characteristics associated with an era.
This is why some novice retailers cut corners and try to emulate the style by casting the rings. Such pieces lack the level of detail you can find on real vintage-style rings. And they rarely feature a true vintage stone or stones.
HOW TO FIND A GOOD RETAILER?
The first thing to look for is the jeweler’s history. The company needs to have been in the market for at least a few decades. Ideally, it should specialize in antique, vintage, and vintage-style jewelry and have an extensive offer of either option.
To make sure this is the case, some due diligence is required. Go to the jeweler’s website and check out their offer. Vintage-style rings should be in a separate category from antique and vintage rings. And it’s best if the jeweler has a brick and mortar store or studio where you can see the pieces in person.
Then, take a close look at the descriptions of the rings you like. The attributes you’re looking for include handcrafted and vintage diamond cut in XY year. And by now, you know which embellishments and design characteristics to look for.
The vintage-style engagement rings should also come with a GIA or other reputable certificate. If not, the jeweler should provide the certificate upon request. And it wouldn’t hurt to get some extra perks like a free professional cleaning.
VINTAGE-STYLE ENGAGEMENT RINGS EXAMPLES
After more than forty years in the business, Estate Diamond Jewelry offers one of the finest selections of vintage-style pieces. The following sections feature some of the highlights and each piece matches the criteria presented in this article.
With an old-mine cut 2.02-carat diamond, the Regal is a true show-stopper. Of course, the diamond itself dates back to 1925, but this is just the beginning of the story.
The vintage center stone is of VS2 clarity and K color, and there is a halo of Ceylon sapphires. Their deep blue luster amplifies the 4Cs of the center stone. Furthermore, the ring’s shanks have four round-cut diamonds on each side.
If you glance at the under-gallery, you’ll be able to see a subtle filigree that rounds off the entire setting. The bezels on top sport a fine milgrain and the precious metal of choice is platinum.
The design and level of detail on this Edwardian-style piece are hard to miss. Cut in 1920, the 1.76-carat diamond takes center stage.
As indicated in the name, it’s old European cut, plus you get a halo of smaller diamonds that surround the main stone. However, the intricacy of the halo is difficult to match.
It incorporates openwork filigree that accommodates the auxiliary gemstones and creates a kind of floral pattern. Overall, this gives the ring some depth, and there’s a special sense of movement as the light falls onto the piece.
The under-gallery also has filigree and there are three more diamonds on each shank. Finally, this piece wouldn’t be complete without milgrain.
Due to its weight, the Mosley isn’t only a great vintage-style engagement ring but also an excellent investment piece.
The huge antique diamond is the main attraction and it features a cushion-cut. Aside from that, this gemstone is of VS2 clarity and M color. Nonetheless, the center diamond’s beauty is apparent all the more because of the Ceylon calibre cut sapphires in the halo.
As you might expect, there are additional diamonds on the shanks. Three on each side, to be exact. You also get milgrain and filigree in the under-gallery.
This exceptional piece comes with a triple-wire shank and the ring is platinum.
Handcrafted from platinum, this piece ticks all the right boxes when it comes to vintage-style rings. Speaking of style, the piece emulates Art Deco and the center stone dates back to 1930.
The 1.10-carat diamond is approximately VS2 clarity and H color, allowing for eye-catching brilliance and clarity. As for the halo, the circle of old mine cut diamonds gives the piece enchanting liveliness. In addition, the smaller gemstones weigh 0.44-carats, putting the rings total weight at 1.54-carats.
Yes, there is milgrain and intricate filigree in the under-gallery, and you get two more gems in each shank. To complete the Art Deco style, this piece also has a triple-wire shank.
Looking for a great balance of the 4Cs, style, and embellishments? If so, the European Halo Ring might be right up your alley.
The center diamond weighs about 1.40 carats and dates back to 1920. The stone is of VS2 clarity and J color, and there’s a diamond-encrusted halo to draw your attention to the main gem. The auxiliary diamonds sport an old mine cut, they’re pave set, and weigh about 0.25 carats.
To make the piece more delicate, the ring incorporates a triple wire shank and there’s a subtle filigree in the under-gallery. Finally, this vintage-style engagement ring is platinum and handmade.
THERE’S NO STYLE LIKE THE VINTAGE-STYLE
Ultimately, vintage-style engagement rings are more modern pieces that pay homage to the distinct characteristics of an era. Handcrafted and full of intricate detail, these rings are a true testament to an artisan’s skill that adds to the future value of a piece.
And let’s not forget the genuine vintage diamonds as the most important aspect of the ring. Their origin, 4Cs, and timeless appeal round off the aesthetics of the engagement ring, making it truly unique.
So what are you waiting for? Pick one piece from our selection and impress your future bride.