Daily Archives: August 13, 2014

Vintage Engagement Rings – Your Guide to Classic Diamond Rings

Posted on Aug 13,2014

Vintage engagement rings are prized not only for the stone and the metal used on the setting but also the intricacy of its design. Vintage engagement rings feature some of the most elaborate settings that the band is sometimes as valuable for the wearer as the stone. Carefully handcrafted by jewelry artisans of decades past, vintage engagement rings (whether they’re from as far back as the 1800s, the 1920s, or the 1960s) are a testament to the talent and craftsmanship of the artist. Of course, the older the engagement ring, the more buyers usually value it. As such, authentic vintage engagement rings from a particular period can be hard to come by.

Authenticity

There are generally two types of buyers of vintage engagement rings: those that value the ring for its past history and those that value the ring for the design alone. Of course, some people also value both. If you are interested in buying a vintage engagement ring, the first thing that you have to decide on is whether you want an engagement ring from a particular period or you want a reproduction of the design of a particular period. If you’re after authenticity, then you have to look in a lot of different places to find the ring you want but if you only want a reproduction of a particular design, then you can have virtually any ring from any period reproduced by a talented jeweler. Although, the intricacy of the design and detailing may pose a challenge for many, depending on your chosen design.

If you are intent on proposing with an authentic vintage engagement ring from a particular period, then the following tips might prove useful to you in your search for the perfect ring:

Period of Origin

When shopping for vintage engagement rings, it might be easier if you focus on one particular period. While some don’t really have a preference just as long as the ring is an antique and is aesthetically pleasing in design, others are more particular about the period the ring is from. Does your partner have a particular preference?

The most common inspirations for vintage engagement rings are the Victorian period (mid to late 1800s; rose gold was widely used in this era; popular cuts include the old European cut and antique cushion cut), Edwardian period (notable for the use of platinum as the base metal; popular cuts include the rose cut and the old European cut), the art deco period (from 1920s to 1940s, notable for its art deco and filigree designs; white gold has become a common material for rings; popular cuts included the round brilliant and old European cut), and the retro period (1930s to 1960s; wedding bands were typically designed to match the engagement ring).

Price

It is a common misconception among many first-time vintage jewelry buyers that vintage engagement rings are more expensive than modern ones.  Unless the ring had an important past and had very valuable components, vintage rings aren’t necessarily more expensive. Price depends on the physical aspects of the ring (i.e. the current state of the stones and the band, the presence of visible damages). While most vintage jewelry sellers will have restored the ring as much to its former glory as possible, any damages can still have a big impact on the price. More often than not, going vintage is a much more cost-effective option when buying an engagement ring. Plus, you get to enjoy the craftsmanship of a particular period in history.

Quality and Durability

Authentic vintage engagement rings that still carry all the stones from the original ring are a testament to its craftsmanship. When buying a vintage engagement ring, it’s important to ask the seller beforehand if any of the stones on the ring have been replaced. Engagement rings that carry multiple stones might not always withstand the test of time. As such, jewelers sometimes replace missing or damaged stones from the original ring. In some occasions, only the band is kept and the stones are replaced with new ones.

If the ring you are buying is from the Victorian era or the Edwardian era, it’s extremely important to make sure of its durability because of its old age. Although, stones from the Edwardian era are said to be superior when it comes to cut and durability.

Ring Setting                                                                                         

Vintage engagement rings are highly notable for the intricacy of their settings. Since some of the settings are really delicate, it’s important to check the stones on the ring. If any of the stones seem loose or can easily be dislodged with your finger, it probably won’t withstand too much use anymore.

Ring Size

Not all vintage engagement rings can be resized without affecting the original design. The really intricate ones can cost a fortune to resize, especially if you need to add more material to the ring to make it bigger. Ensuring that the detailing and the metal are similar can be difficult for modern jewelry makers so you have to make sure to get the size right or at least make sure that it is possible to have it resized. You can also ask for a quote for resizing ahead of your purchase to ensure that you stay within budget.

The Stone

Most importantly, examine the stone (or stones) carefully and decide whether it is something you really want to keep. It is important to remember that cutting methods have significantly evolved over the years. Improving the cutting process has made it possible to maximize the fire, brilliance, and scintillation of modern diamonds. Vintage diamonds, however, tend to be less sparkly than their modern counterparts.

When shopping for a vintage engagement ring, you can’t rely too much on what it says on paper about the diamond’s cut, clarity, color, and carat weight because there were different cutting standards in the past. Also, it can be difficult to find a vintage engagement ring with a proper certificate. While you can have it evaluated yourself, you should still keep in mind that you should set different standards when it comes to a diamond’s 4Cs.

Make sure to have the ring appraised before buying. You can bring a diamond valuation expert with you to a store to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for. You can also choose to have the ring appraised after purchase, just make sure the store has a reasonable return policy.

When choosing a vintage engagement ring, it’s really all about personal preference and how you feel about the ring. Whether you are choosing it with your partner or buying it as a surprise, the ring should represent the personality of the wearer.

Posted in  Buying a Diamond, Valuing Diamonds |   Tagged