Many brides are attracted by antique engagement rings because they are unique and steeped in history. With intricate settings and opulent coloured gemstones, twe understand why they are popular amoung brides-to-be today! If it is a gorgeous heirloom piece, a vintage engagement ring also has a symbolic value, and if you want to purchase one, affordable prices can be a big bonus.
Quality and value of the ring are the major concerns for every bride and groom considering to buy a vintage piece, so you will need a certified gemmologist appraiser to tell you if the ring is in good condition. Since you want a ring that will last a lifetime, look for durable metals such as platinum and harder gems such as diamonds and avoid stones that are prone to breakage such as opals and pearls.
Reproduction jewellery is an option if you can’t find a vintage ring you like, or if you are not quite satisfied with the quality. You can find gorgeous vintage-inspired engagement rings, but do your research first to fine-tune your preferences and establish whether you prefer intricate Georgian and Victorian designs, slightly newer Edwardian and Art Nouveau rings or chic 20th century Art Déco rings which are very popular with modern brides who love that 1920’s fashion.
Impeccably hand-crafted rings of the Georgian Period (1700-1837) are very opulent and regal with intricate metalwork made from 10k, 18k and 22k yellow gold, silver and copper. Settings featured nature-inspired motifs such as flowers and butterflies, while gemstones used included diamond, emerald, sapphire, ruby and garnet, and the most popular cuts were table cut, rose cut and old mine. The styles range from Rococo that was prevalent in the early part of the era to Gothic and Neoclassical which were popularised later.
Jewellery from the Victorian Period (1837-1901) depicts phases of Queen Victoria’s life, and the era is usually divided into three segments – Early (or Romantic), Mid and Late Victorian. Victorian engagement rings from the Romantic period featured joyful motifs and colours and after her husband Prince Albert died, jewellery designs had become dark and melancholic. In the late Victorian period (from 1880 to 1901) jewellery was more whimsical featuring motifs like stars, dragons, griffins and crescent moons. During the reign of Queen Victoria precious gems were more affordable so jewellery makers used a wide variety of stones.
Edwardian engagement rings are very romantic and feature intricate filigree work that resemble beautiful antique laces. Ancient Greek, Roman and French Baroque influences were dominant and frequently used motifs included floral garlands and wreaths, moon and stars, bows, tassels and scrolls. A unique combination of platinum, diamonds and pearls is characteristic for this era that lasted from 1901 to 1914, but other stones such as peridot, emerald, sapphire, ruby, opal and moonstone were used as well. Popular gemstone cuts include rose cut, old mine cut and old European cut.
Art Nouveau period (1895-1915) overlaps with the Edwardian period, and jewellery was artistic, feminine and romantic. Motifs on Art Nouveau engagement rings were inspired by nature and movement, while tones ranged from small diamonds and pearls to lapis lazuli, moonstone and synthetic gems. Soft, pale colours and designs influenced by ancient and classical art and architecture are typical for this period.
Art Déco style refers to the period between 1920 and 1930 and it introduced bold geometric shapes and unique colour combinations, but these elements were beautifully combined with elaborate filigree work. Art Deco engagement rings sometimes feature motifs inspired by African, Egyptian and Oriental art, and new types of cuts such as calibre cut and shield shapes. Jewellers started making ring settings from white gold, but yellow gold and platinum were used as well.
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