Vintage Engagement Rings – Like Fine Wine and Classic Cars

The word vintage generally sparks visions of certain years of wine or very rare automobiles. However, for the same reasons, vintage engagement rings have become one of the most sought after solutions to finding just the perfect ring. Like certain cars whose design seems timeless, vintage engagement rings have a uniqueness and quality very difficult to find in engagement ring styles today.

If I’m Over 50, Does It Mean I’m Vintage?

When you begin to do a little research about vintage engagement rings, it’s easy to get confused. Many articles you read will interchange the titles antique, estate and vintage like they are all different names for the same thing. This is not quite true.

While vintage can be used to describe estate and antique engagement rings, those two categories are quite different. True antique engagement rings refer to pieces that are at least 50 years old. Estate engagement rings, refers to pieces that have been previously owned, not pieces bought from an estate as the name might lead you to believe. Some estate engagement rings could be vintage and all antique engagement rings are considered vintage.

Is that clear as mud? The main thing to keep in mind is that vintage refers to older rings, that comes from certain named eras.

Why Go Older, When Younger is Easy?

You might be saying to yourself, why go to all this trouble, when I can run right down to the mall and pick up an engagement ring from any number of jewelry stores? Well, that’s sort of the point. Anyone can run down to the mall and or even to Wal-Mart and buy an engagement ring, but buying an engagement ring should be a very special occasion. Do you want to tell your friends and loved ones about your wonderful experience picking out just the right ring at Wal-Mart?

On the other hand, if you like to have things that are unique, classy and out of the ordinary, then making a little extra effort to seek out a vintage engagement ring is well worth your time. Besides, sometimes half the fun is in the search.

Vintage engagement rings are not only extraordinary in appearance, but their quality and craftsmanship are generally way beyond what you find in your run of the mill jewelry store today. Vintage engagement rings come from a time when people still took a great deal of pride in what they manufactured, and mass production was not as prevalent or high speed as it is today.

One of the most unique things about these unique engagement rings, is they have a history. They come from a certain era. The history of what was going on in that era, how it influenced the design and make-up of jewelry are interesting facts to know and make great dinner party conversation.

Look At the Eras of Your Ways!

When you start to look at the different styles of vintage engagement rings, you will find some rings that have common themes and designs. Knowing what eras these rings come from can help you zone in on the styles and designs you like. Here is a list of the eras, and a few brief words on each to help you understand and become familiar with the schemes of each era:

Georgian (1714-1837): Probably the rarest because of its age, but also each piece was handmade, making each item, slightly different. This can also mean quality varied, so be careful when selecting. A great deal of the design of this era was inspired by nature, with items like trees and birds molded into the features. They often have precious stones as well.

Early Victorian (1837-1855): Sometimes referred to as the romantic era, it too had nature inspired art, but more delicate and intricate designs began to be introduced.

Mid-Victorian (1856-1880): An era influenced early on by the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, giving way to solemn pieces with dark stones, sometimes referred to as “Mourning” pieces. Don’t get any ideas grooms-to-be! All was not dark; the era also gave way to brighter colors, moved away from some of the nature designs and went with sea shells and mosaics.

Late Victorian (1885-1900): This era is often called the aesthetic era, started the use of more colorful stones such as sapphires and peridot (a beautiful light green translucent stone), along with expanded use of diamonds. The art included stars and moons, presenting some of the most unique engagement rings in the vintage field.

Arts and crafts (1894-1923): The industrial revolution influenced this era, but in an opposite way. Many craftsmen rebelled against the new ways of doing things and returned to older, more intricate hand crafted designs. More bright colored stones were used and simpler patterns.

Art Nouveau (1895-1915): Inspired in France this era brought on the use of flowers, butterflies and often women with long flowing hair transpiring into other shapes, giving it a romantic touch and dream like appearance.

Edwardian (1901-1915): Marking the historic transition of Edward to king after the death of his mother Victoria, engagement rings from this era are known mostly for expensive stones and elaborate designs, like the cushion cut engagement rings, and Asscher cut engagement rings. Diamonds, emeralds and rubies often adorn rings from this era.

Art Deco (1915-1935): Named after a 1925 art deco exhibit in Paris, this era was greatly influenced by the American Indian and by a huge interest in ancient Egypt at the time. Other influences in designs were derived from Greek and Roman architecture as the popular themes of the day were the studies of ancient civilizations offering some of the most exotic looking engagement rings you can find.

Retro (1945-1960): Inspired mainly by the gaudiness of Hollywood, this era brought on the flashy large dinner rings and elaborate trimming often worn by the glamorous movie stars of the time and their one-upmanship. That being said, there were some awesome vintage engagement rings produced in this time period.

Diamonds Are Forever, But Emeralds Last a Life Time

While diamond seem to be the rage in the modern engagement rings, that was not always the case, as many engagement rings of the past used to come with magnificent examples of emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Part of the uniqueness that comes with purchasing vintage engagement rings is the extensive and tasteful use of stones other than diamonds; set your own trend and add some color to your search!

Dress Like a Duchess, Watch Out For the Dukes of Hazards

Buying vintage engagement rings is no different than purchasing new, you need to find a reputable dealer or take someone with you who is very knowledgeable. While pawn stores and antique shops can be a great place to find cheap engagement rings, the proprietors are usually less than professional jewelers and may or may not know what they are selling. If you are investing a large sum of money, make sure you get professional advice.

Even Columbus Had a Compass

Finding vintage engagement rings is not all that difficult. A great place to start your search is online. There are hundreds of vintage jewelry dealers all over the country, along with antique stores, junk stores, pawn shops and estate sales that all sell vintage engagement rings. Once you have figured out the vintage era you prefer, finding the right place to buy it will be fun and exciting.

The uniqueness, exclusivity and value of vintage engagement rings make them an interesting option worth exploring. Along with their inherited beauty, the rich history of vintage engagement rings, make great conversation. They will inspire a lot of envy from those wishful on lookers who didn’t take the time to investigate this adventuresome route to finding the perfect prize for celebrating your life decision.