When you inherit a jewelry piece, you not only inherit an ornament, you also inherit love, affection and sentiment that your forefathers wanted to pass down to coming generations. You might have noticed that vintage engagement rings have become increasingly popular in recent years as couples seek timeless pieces to symbolize their love with the essence of their ancestor’s blessings. Not only are these rings stunning in their craftsmanship but they also hold a rich history that spans centuries sometimes.
The first recorded use of an engagement ring dates back to ancient Egypt, where the circle shape represented eternity and the unending love between two people. However, it wasn’t until the ancient Greeks and Romans that rings became a more common symbol of engagement. The Romans believed that the vein in the fourth finger of the left hand, now known as the “ring finger,” was directly connected to the heart, making it the perfect place for an engagement ring.
It wasn’t until the 13th century that diamond engagement rings became a popular choice, thanks to the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring, which sparked a trend among European aristocracy.
However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that diamonds became the standard choice for engagement rings. In 1886, the jeweler Tiffany & Co. introduced their now iconic ‘Tiffany’ setting, which featured a diamond raised above the shank to maximize its brilliance. This setting, along with an aggressive marketing campaign, made diamonds the go-to choice for engagement rings in America.
But what about vintage engagement rings? When did they become popular, and what makes them so unique?
The term vintage engagement rings can be used for engagement rings that are 50-100 years old. These rings can be found in a variety of styles, including Art Deco, Victorian, and Edwardian, and are often characterized by their intricate details, unique designs, and use of color gemstones.
One of the most surprising aspects of vintage engagement rings is their durability. Many of these rings were crafted by hand using techniques no longer in use today. The craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating these pieces means that they stood the test of time and are still as beautiful and unique as they were when they were first made.
Another surprising aspect of vintage engagement rings is their affordability. While new diamond engagement rings can cost tens of thousands of dollars, vintage rings can sometimes be found for a fraction of the price. This is due in part to the fact that many people are unaware of the true value of these pieces, but also because vintage rings are often sold through estate sales and auctions rather than traditional jewelry stores.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of vintage engagement rings is the stories they hold. These rings have been worn by generations of people, each with their own unique love story. They have survived wars, natural disasters, and countless other events, and yet they still exist today as a symbol of love and commitment.
For example, the famous blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring that Prince William gave to Kate Middleton was actually the same ring that his mother, Princess Diana, wore during her engagement to Prince Charles. This ring has become an iconic piece of jewelry, and its history and meaning add to its beauty and value. These days, many couples are choosing a Princess Diana replica engagement ring for their special day.
After knowing the rich history of vintage engagement rings, let us quickly discuss some popular styles of vintage engagement rings.
Vintage engagement rings come in a wide variety of styles, each with its own unique history and design. These rings are often characterized by their intricate details, use of color gemstones, and timeless elegance. Here are some of the most famous types of vintage engagement rings and the stories behind them.
Art Deco Engagement Rings
Art Deco engagement rings are characterized by their bold geometric shapes, intricate details, and use of diamonds and colored gemstones. This style of jewelry emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and was heavily influenced by the artistic and cultural movements of the time. Art Deco rings are often made with platinum and feature bold, symmetrical designs.
One famous Art Deco engagement ring is the ring given to Wallis Simpson by the Duke of Windsor. This ring features a large emerald-cut diamond surrounded by baguette-cut diamonds in a platinum setting. The ring is a stunning example of Art Deco design and has become an iconic piece of jewelry.
Victorian Engagement Rings
Victorian engagement rings were popular in the 19th century and are characterized by their romantic and ornate designs. These rings often feature diamonds, pearls, and other gemstones set in gold or silver. Victorian rings are known for their attention to detail, with many pieces featuring intricate engravings and filigree work.
One famous Victorian engagement ring is the ring given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert. This ring features a large solitaire diamond in a gold setting with a series of smaller diamonds on the shoulders. This ring became a symbol of love and has inspired countless engagement rings since its creation.
Edwardian Engagement Rings
Edwardian engagement rings were popular during the early 20th century and are known for their delicate and feminine designs. These rings often feature diamonds and other gemstones set in platinum, with intricate filigree work and details inspired by nature.
These rings got the spotlight when the Edwardian engagement ring was given to Jacqueline Kennedy by John F. Kennedy. This ring features a 2.88-carat diamond set in a platinum and gold setting with a series of smaller diamonds on the shoulders. The ring is a stunning example of Edwardian design and has become an iconic piece of jewelry.
Retro Engagement Rings
Retro engagement rings were popular in the 1940s and 1950s and are characterized by their bold and colorful designs. These rings often feature large, vibrant gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds set in gold or platinum. Retro rings also often feature intricate details and designs that have a resemblance to the Art Deco style.
A retro engagement ring was given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton. This ring features around 33.19-carat diamond set in a platinum and gold setting with a series of smaller diamonds on the shoulders. The ring is a stunning example of retro design and has become an iconic piece of jewelry.
Antique Engagement Rings
Antique engagement rings are any rings that are at least 100 years old. Art Deco, Victorian, and Edwardian are subdivisions or newer versions of antique engagement rings. Vintage engagement rings often feature intricate details and unique designs. These rings are often made with very high-quality materials and hand-craftsmanship that are no longer used today.
The ring given to Grace Kelly by Prince Rainier of Monaco is the best example of a vintage engagement ring. This ring features a stunning 10.47-carat emerald cut diamond set in a platinum setting with two diamonds on both the shoulders of the ring. The ring is a stunning example of antique design and has become an iconic piece of jewelry.
In conclusion, whether you are drawn to the bold geometric shapes of Art Deco or retro engagement rings, vintage engagement rings hold a surprising and fascinating history. From ancient Egypt to the modern day these rings have evolved and adapted to reflect the changing attitudes and beliefs about love and marriage. While they may not have the same level of commercialization as new diamond engagement rings, vintage rings offer a unique and timeless beauty that cannot be found elsewhere. Whether you are looking for a piece of history or a one-of-a-kind symbol for your love, a vintage engagement ring is sure to be a stunning and meaningful choice. Adorn her ring finger with a jewel that has a history associated with it and make your engagement day memorable.