One of the most intriguing aspects of antique engagement rings are the unique engravings and symbols found on the inside of the band. If you know what you’re looking at, these marks tell a story that can let you know where the ring came from and how old it is.
Dating American jewelry can be tricky, but European antique engagement rings are much easier. Prior to 1998, British jewelry was subject to four compulsory marks called hallmarks. These marks indicate the maker, the fineness of the metal, the Assay office or origin country, and the year it was marked.
One of the most important marks to be able to identify on antique engagement rings is the quality mark. This will tell you about the metal type and metal purity. Depending on the age and origin of the ring, the quality marks can be very different from one another.
Antique engagement rings from the United States are typically stamped either 14k or 18k for gold and Plat for platinum. Instead of 14kt, you might see 585. This means that the gold is 58.5% pure gold. If you divide 14 by 24, you’ll get this percentage. Likewise, 18kt is sometimes marked 750 because it is 75% pure gold. For platinum, you’ll usually see 900 or 950 since platinum is much more pure than gold.
European antique engagement rings may use a symbol with or without the corresponding number mark. To decode these marks, you can look up the mark at the Assay office of the country of origin. Or click here for a list of common hallmarks.
When shopping for antique engagement rings, one of the most common curiosities is to know how old a piece is. Dating antique jewelry can be extremely difficult, even for experts. If the antique has marks on the inside, it could give a clue to the age of the piece.
European antique engagement rings have a mark for the date. This mark is a stylized letter in a special shape outline. A full list from 1773 through 2012 can be found at the Birmingham Assay Office. The mark from 1773 is a capital A in a shield shape, for 2012, a lowercase n in a square shape.
Country of Origin
Identifying the country of origin for antique engagement rings can be practically impossible. Unless the ring is marked with an identifying hallmark, there can be almost no way to know for certain. One of the most common hallmarks seen on antique engagement rings is an anchor on its side. This is a symbol of the Birmingham Assay Office.
There are many books on the subject as well as online resources. With a little research, you can almost certainly identify the country of origin if the antique has the appropriate mark.
It can be very interesting to know the maker of antique engagement rings. Knowing the maker can also help to identify the country of origin and the date of manufacture. Common jewelry designers often sign their name. Tiffany & Company, for example, signs their pieces with their full name, or sometimes T & Co. Cartier is also another well known designer who signs their full name.
Lesser known designers may use their initials or special symbols. Again, with some patience and savvy research skills, you can identify the maker of antique engagement rings.