No other item of jewelry carries as much symbolic weight as the engagement ring. It represents a love that’s meant to last forever, which means the ring must be well made and beautiful. The ring also needs to match the personality of the person who receives it. By choosing to look for a vintage engagement ring, you’ll be able to find a one-of-a-kind piece from one of the many fascinating jewelry eras throughout history. While there’s nothing wrong with choosing a new ring or even having one custom made, the romance of going the vintage route can’t be denied. Vintage engagement rings have been passed down for generations. Choosing one for your relationship is a way of continuing that love story. Alternatively, if you decide to go with a new ring that’s been modeled after a popular vintage style, you’ll be starting a new story just for you. Both choices are wonderful, and with so many exciting vintage jewelry eras to choose from, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect ring.
Choosing Your Vintage Engagement Ring: Jewelry Eras Throughout the Centuries
When shopping for engagement rings, it helps to have some idea of what you’re looking for. You can prepare by learning about the various eras of jewelry throughout history.
The Georgian Period (1714 to 1837)
Diamonds were popular for engagement rings throughout the Georgian period, but as time went on, colored stones began to make an appearance. Jewelers experimented with one-piece stones in a variety of new cuts and sizes, making for some interesting and colorful pieces. It was also during this period that 18k silver and gold began to be used often. Expensive, high-end pieces were often created by setting the stone in silver first and gold second, which helped to prevent tarnishing.
The Victorian Era (1835 to 1890)
Using birthstones in engagement jewelry became popular during the Victorian era. B It was common to see sapphires or emeralds used in engagement rings. Ancient symbols, such as the serpent, also frequently inspired jewelry, especially after Prince Albert gave the Queen a snake engagement ring. Rings cast in gold and featuring a solitaire diamond were also very popular during this time. After Queen Victorian’s death in 1901, black onyx made an appearance to mourn the Queen.
The Edwardian Era (1895 to 1915)
It was during the Edwardian era that engagement jewelry began to take on a softer and more artful appearance. Jewelers became true artists, and the popularity of platinum in jewelry skyrocketed, mostly for its light, yet extremely durable qualities. Pieces became delicate and more feminine, with platinum most commonly used in place of traditional yellow gold. It was also during this period that the filigree technique started to show up. The technique, which involves layering thin threads of gold or platinum on top of other precious metals, creates an alluring lacy texture that adds to the ladylike feel of the piece.
The Art Nouveau Era (1895 to 1915)
The Art Nouveau period was so much more than a jewelry era. It was a movement that encompassed the entire world of art and brought forth the idea that creativity should be a part of everyday life, not just the art world. Jewelry makers in this era considered themselves true artists. Each piece was a unique work, not just something to be worn. Art Nouveau pieces featured a lot of smooth curves, diamond accents, pale colors, and depictions from nature, like flowers, plants, animals, and insects. Influences from architecture were also common around this time. Pieces were often handcrafted and showed a stark contrast to other pieces. Jewelers began experimenting with using enamel on jewelry, which created an interesting stained-glass effect.
The Art Deco Era (1915 to 1935)
The Art Deco era is perhaps one of the most exciting architectural and jewelry eras in history. During the economic boom of the twenties, women began to take daring new risks in fashion, and the mood shifted toward individuality and away from the restraints and trends of the Victorian era. There were many advancements in jewelry making during this time, such as cutting techniques that allowed for the creation of the round-cut diamond.
In contrast to the femininity of the Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras, the Art Deco era was all about masculine lines and geometric shapes. It was an overall prosperous period for the jewelry market, although production did temporarily halt during World War I.
The Retro Era (1935 to 1950)
After the struggles of the Great Depression, the world was ready for some seriously glamorous jewelry. The Retro era is characterized by an emphasis on new types of gold, such as rose or green gold. Rings from this jewelry era are often characterized by mixed metal elements. Platinum was scarce during the Retro era because it was in high demand for the war effort. Pieces tended to be large and flashy because women were inspired by the Hollywood starlets that were growing in popularity during these decades. It was common to see feminine adornments, such as bows, ruffles, lace, flowers, and ribbons. There were also a lot of curved designs.
The Modern Era (1950 to Present)
Today’s jewelry features influences from all of these past jewelry eras. It’s easy to find any type of engagement ring you would like these days, but currently, rings with a unique texture seem to outshine classic smooth bands. A variety of stones are used, but pave diamonds and other settings that involve the use of many small stones are becoming increasingly popular.
Personality Types: What Era of Jewelry is Right for Your Love?
Everyone has their own unique personality, which is part of what makes love so wonderful. You have found that one special person who has a personality you click with, and now you need to find the perfect engagement ring for them. This can get difficult with so many options to choose from. One of the best ways to make the decision is to look at the various jewelry eras and determine which one best aligns with your partner’s style.
- Over-The-Top Diva
Do you have a special lady that loves the spotlight? Maybe she’s a natural performer, very outgoing, or simply loves being the center of attention. If she tends to dress to impress and isn’t afraid to take fashion risks, jewelry from the Art Deco period might be right up her alley. These are bold and flashy pieces designed for the woman with a “go big or go home” attitude.
- Feminine and Classy
Does your lady love all things feminine? Do you regularly catch her cuddled up on the couch with classic literature or a good period romance? If she embodies classic ladylike behavior and embraces tradition, then you’ll want to look for vintage engagement rings from the Victorian or Edwardian jewelry eras. These are rings for the old-fashioned girly girl, and with the complexity of the styles from the era, you’ll never have to worry about ending up with a boring ring.
- The Tomboy
Maybe your special lady shuns traditionally feminine things in favor of getting down and dirty playing outside. Whether you’ve got an off-road BMX rider or a woman with a passion for guns, you’ll need to find the perfect ring to match her rough-and-tough sweetness. Consider checking out some rings from the Georgian period. Choosing a single-stone emerald without a lot of frills will show her that you took her personality into account while still seeking out something that she’ll find beautiful.
- Lost in Fantasy
If your lady can’t get enough books and films about dragons, enchanted forests, or other fantasy lore, you might do well shopping for rings from the Art Nouveau era. This period was all about beautiful artistry, which relates to the stuff of fantasies. Ideal for the woman who considers herself a dreamer and a visionary, a vintage engagement ring from the Art Nouveau period will be the perfect addition to your fantasy proposal.
- Always Positive and Happy
Is your special lady the type to always put a positive spin on things? Do her friends come to her when they’re feeling down because they know she will put them in a better mood? If the love of your life plays a big role in keeping you happy each day thanks to her great attitude, then she might love a ring from the Retro era. These rings are fun, happy pieces with a glamorous edge.
- Tech Obsessed
Does your lady get more excitement out of building computers than shopping for clothes or learning about jewelry eras? Is she the type to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in science and technology? Maybe she works in one of these fields, or perhaps it’s simply a passion of hers. Either way, a modern ring would be a great match for her personality. Attractive options include accent diamonds, clean lines, and modern jewel settings that demonstrate cutting-edge style.Great Options from Trumpet & Horn: Beautiful Pieces from History’s Best Jewelry Eras
There are thousands of vintage engagement rings to choose from, and with all of these eras and styles of jewelry to consider, you might need a push in the right direction. Any of these beautiful vintage rings would make an excellent choice.
- Long Grove
- Smokey Hill
- Edge Hill