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Antique Engagement Rings are quite possibly, the most romantic engagement ring type there is. Women love antique engagement rings because they are classics – and whether it’s knowingly or not I think there’s an inherent ‘timelessness’ about an antique piece of jewelry that when packaged with the promise of ‘Forever’ makes a quite irresistible combination. If you are shopping for Antique Engagement Rings styles for yourself, or are exploring the world of antique jewelry for a present for your soon to be wife or significant other – than you’re probably wonder what styles are out there, whether antique ‘style’ is just as good as ‘antique’ (authentic), eras, periods, best place to buy antique jewelry and most importantly how to know for sure if the ring is authentic & quality.

The Antique Ring: What To Love

Even if you aren’t a vintage or antique enthusiast, there is something wonderful about antique jewelry that speaks to the most fundamental aspect of our nature to preserve, to remember and value our culture as a society. When you see an antique jewelry piece, whether it’s an antique engagement ring or a vintage costume jewelry necklace, you’re bound to envision and ponder where the jewelry came form and who may have worn it or gifted it. In addition, we know that jewelry in the beginning of the century and earlier, was not as manufactured as it is now, so often times each piece is obviously handcrafted and that’s something you can see in it’s authenticity and it’s unique style. Women truly love antique engagement rings & vintage jewelry because it speaks to the heart as a ‘forever’ piece of jewelry and offers a story to not only themselves- but to their friends and family of course!

Understand What Antique Means (in terms of Jewelry…and women)

According to popular and accepted definition of an “Antique” the rule is, if you are a piece of jewelry (or furniture or statue) you have to wait about 100 years  before deemed a true “Antique.” But, by standards today and what most women look for in interesting ‘antique’ or vintage jewelry is the provenance of being of another era – which is more like 30-40 years, pieces before or during the 1970s or earlier are what I find most people are looking for in jewelry and other ‘vintage’ and ‘antique’ variety of products. Finding jewelry that is from before the 20th Century is very rare and unless it is a simple costume piece – you’re likely to find it in a museum or priced high on the famous Christie’s Auctions or other Antique Auctions and not as often on retail websites. With that said, on to the eras and styles of antique engagement rings –

The Ring, Antique Eras and Styles

Knowing your Era is definitely not as important as know your style when choosing the perfect antique engagement ring, but, when you go to make a purchase if you want an authentic piece this information is vital. You don’t want to have an expecting female hoping for an early 20th Century piece, while you’re duped into a 1990s vintage ‘style’ ring knock-off. I’m covering the important eras and what styles are relevant today, what people look for. I won’t provide an encyclopedia on Antique Jewelry terms, but I can provide examples and pictures, so, here’s your Artly guide to Antique jewelry Eras!

To make sure the examples were as authentic as possible, I made sure to find currently for sale pieces from these eras from a reputable source – So, giving credit to the images to: http://www.gesner.com/
 

Art Nouveau – Late 1800s – Early 1900s

Art Nouveau is a highly used term used to describe more than it’s fair share of jewelry, dresses, accessories. Highly used is an understatement as most often the pieces being described as “art nouveau” are very far from actually being from this era. Nouveau is French and is often described as ‘academic art.’

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 4 intricate setting

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 4 intricate setting

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 3

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 3

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 2

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 2

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 1

Art Nouveau Engagement Ring Sample 1

Edwardian – 1910 – 1920

Heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau period as appropriately coined as one in the same at times. This period as well as the Art Nouveau period are both heavily sough after by collectors, jewelry during this time was sooo pre-war it was almost always handcrafted to some degree and the attention to fine detail and craftsmanship will most certainly be unmatched for the rest of our time here on earth (if you’re reading this now…)

 

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in Gold Geometric Setting

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in Gold Geometric Setting

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in silver round diamond

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in silver round diamond

Art Deco – 1920 – 1935

Again, Art Nouveau gets lumped into this category at times, it’s safe to assume that this entire early 20th century period is a popular antique/vintage era and the terms are misused quite often. What is important is that you know what style you’re looking for so you make the right purchase unique to you. Art Deco was actually a vast difference in style from the earlier, intricate more ‘victorian’ style of design. Art Deco began our simpler, modern, colorful and FANTASTIC mod style we know and love today. Check out Artly’s Collection of Posters & Prints of authentic Vintage Vanity Fair Cover Art for PERFECT examples of this up-to-date art in action during the Art Deco period.

We actually have a lot of Art Deco Engagement Rings on ArtlyVintage right now, here are some –
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Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring Large Square Setting

Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring Large Square Setting

Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring Large Square Setting

Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring Large Square Setting

Retro – 1935 – 1950s

During the great depression, this period marked the popularity of rubies and sapphires, which is why you may find antique engagement rings of sapphire or fine rubies during this era. You’ll also find that many of the popular fine jewelry designers of today started during this period, Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to name a few.

SO, here’s an example of MY engagement ring from the 1940s – very beautiful and the prong large square setting make this round 1.1CT diamond look like a mammoth size princess cut, but I know it’s a vintage piece :)

Retro Antique Engagement Ring MY Example Vintage Engagement Ring

Retro Antique Engagement Ring MY Example Vintage Engagement Ring

Retro Antique Engagement Ring

Retro Antique Engagement Ring

Postwar – 1950s – 1960

Postwar is truly the 50s in it’s finest fashion – hoop skirts, preppy looks, simple pieces and the most Americana fashion you’ll find today. Some of the beautiful Art Dec & Nouveau styles still creep in, but you’ll find more modern looks with geometric shapes as the true disco & modern wave starts to make resonate.

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in Gold Geometric Setting

edwardian Antique Engagement Ring in Gold Geometric Setting

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example 2 Small Round

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example 2 Small Round

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example Round Gold Flower

Postwar Antique Engagement Ring Example Round Gold Flower

In Conclusion –

Some thoughts as you shop around for or (maybe you’re just a hopeful browsing for ‘research’)

  1. Decide what era you are looking for, or if an ‘era’ is important to you at all, maybe it isn’t and you just want something unique? Best to narrow it down.
  2. We didn’t cover type so of stones in this article, there are many diamond cuts that are exclusive to specific eras, which make them even more interesting! This includes European Cut Diamonds, which are the ‘before’ round cuts as well as ‘mine cuts’ which aren’t as attractive or pretty and don’t expect a GIA certified top of the line clarity with mine cuts, but they are highly sought after as they are no longer being made. You can find an example on our site, we have one Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
  3. Find RECOMMENDED jewelers for your shopping or even better, stop at Estate Sales first and foremost. The most romantic thing about getting an antique engagement ring is the spontaneity – finding the hidden gem among the other common pieces of a sale.
  4. Lastly, if you’re having trouble finding that perfect antique engagement ring that is your style, in good condition and authentic (trust me, it’s not easy) than consider buying an authentic antique engagement setting and buying a loose diamond separately. Often this is less expensive, you get the exact diamond you want and the bit of provenance that comes with the unique & truly authentic setting.

Happy Shopping Unique & Artly Readers! :)

Other Resources on Antique Engagement Ring Research, Style & Eras

  • This is where we found a majority of the sample images for these Antique Engagement Rings by Era – http://www.gesner.com/
  • Christie’s Auctions Remain the foremost authority on unique Antiques & Vintage pieces, including jewelry – Christie’s Auctions
  • Read about how other sites explain the Antique Jewelry Eras on Alana Jewelry – Alana Jewelry Antique & Estate Jewelry Eras
  • More Great reading about the Antique Jewelry Eras on Antique Jewelry Online – Antique Jewelry Online Eras
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